Airlines might not be the first thing that comes to mind when talking sustainability. Yet, they play an important part in gearing world’s growing tourism industry towards environmental sustainability. Over the last years, more and more airlines have started initiatives to improve their fuel efficiency, reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and to use latest aircraft, software and state-of-the art technology to enhance their sustainability performance.
In this short interview, Air New Zealand CEO Christopher Luxon shares his view on the iconic national carrier’s sustainability challenges, successes and future ambitions.
- How airlines face the demanding challenge of reducing their carbon footprint;
- What it feels like to receive an international sustainable business award;
- The main sustainability challenges for airlines;
- What characterizes a sustainability leader in business.
In 2013 Air New Zealand won the WTTC Sustainable Business award – how did it feel to achieve such an important international recognition?
It’s always nice to be acknowledged with awards, especially in that case as it was in comparison with other tourism organisations, not just airlines. There are some fantastic community and environmental initiatives within the global tourism industry and the businesses driving those initiatives provide an example for us all to aspire to, especially as the sector continues to grow rapidly and therefore brings with it environmental and social pressures.
But the thing with sustainability is you’re never the finished article, in fact we’re not even close. There’s always more to do to improve so we’re focused on that rather than reflecting too much on what has been achieved to date.
In your view, what is sustainability in business all about?
It’s about preparing us for the long-term, ensuring we can be a strong and vibrant business for generations to come. To do that we need to be commercially astute and run our business in a way that delivers value to our shareholders as well as enables us to reinvest in our people and our customer experience.
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