Alaska Airlines is setting sustainable goals to make flying matter

Photo by Ingrid Barrentine

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic changed many of your plans and ours. On top of the public health crisis, many around the country and world have lost their jobs and are experiencing an unprecedented amount of uncertainty. Our eyes have also been opened wider to the senseless race-related violence and painful experiences that our Black neighbors, friends and colleagues live with every day. In addition, the challenge of climate change remains critical to address. These are not easy times, but they do remind us how deeply we are connected, and how critical our individual and collective actions are.

At Alaska Airlines, we know something about connection: our top priority is to connect people safely, with fantastic travel experiences and a workplace our employees are proud of. Flying is – and will remain – an important part of how we see family, do business, learn about other cultures and explore the world. It’s up to us to keep it thriving for many years to come and to do so in a way that is responsible to all those who depend on us.

Photo by Ingrid Barrentine

A few years ago, we began using the term “LIFT” for our long-time efforts around environmental and social impact, riffing on the physics principle at the root of aviation. And today, we released our 2019 LIFT Report, which includes data we use to hold ourselves accountable for goals set over the last decade to measure our performance and progress in these areas. The report shares progress in areas such as fuel emissions, waste management and reduction, employee engagement, and supplier labor practices – and 2020 goal attainment in areas such as safety and supporting education opportunity.

This year, to increase transparency, we are also reporting according to Sustainable Accounting Standards Board (SASB) guidelines including deeper commentary on safety and climate. We are proud of our industry leadership on aviation safety and have expanded that focus to the personal health and safety of our guests and employees in light of COVID-19. We also know that our greatest material impact is the carbon generated through burning fuel in our operation and that this has an impact on the climate. We hold ourselves accountable to continue to address that impact through ongoing effort to improve fuel efficiency, use of sustainable aviation fuels and investment in carbon offsets.

This work is as imperative as ever to address racial equity, economic opportunity, and climate change. In the next year, we will roll out new five-year objectives to reflect our commitments in each of these areas, including our impact on carbon, waste and water. We’ve learned from the coronavirus pandemic that our collective actions have impacts around the globe – and, that they can change a trend. These global challenges will require action from all of us. We are grateful for your support and partnership on this continued journey in creating “lift.”

Here are some of our sustainability efforts:

We’re reducing aircraft emissions by:

  • Investing in sustainable aviation fuels that are renewable and produce less emissions.
  • Purchasing more efficient aircraft and upgrading existing planes with advanced design features.
  • Using technology to fly safer routes that use less fuel.

We’re producing less waste by:

We’re making flying matter by:

Many of these initiatives are truly employee-driven.

Our robust recycling program (which we’re itching to return to) began in the mid-80s from the passion of a Horizon Air flight attendant. Though inflight recycling is paused during Covid-19 to reduce risk for guests and employees alike, we look forward to restarting on all our flights.

Our business resource groups, such as the Green Team and Air Group Black Employees Allies & Advocates (ABEA) push us to learn and continue to improve. They’ve created training and education programs, connected employees to volunteer and mentor to support young people’s educational and career advancement, and helped galvanize installation of water bottle filling stations and a move to #FillBeforeYouFly away from plastic water bottles in our offices.

Our safety reporting systems are a top priority every day – and since 2014, Alaska Air Group has honored more than 1,200 employees with the Safe Operations Award & Recognition (SOAR) program, in which peers nominate their fellow employees who’ve gone above and beyond to keep our operation safe.

See the full 2019 report here

We can’t do it alone.

When it comes to making an impact, we all have a role to play. At Alaska Airlines we are building toward a more equitable and sustainable future. With your help, we can make flying matter and help our planet thrive.

Here’s what you can do:

#FillBeforeYouFly: We’re partnering with The Lonely Whale to reduce plastic bottles by making sure you fill up your reusable water bottle before you board. Every time you bring a prefilled water bottle on an Alaska flight and post it to social media with the hashtag #FillBeforeYouFly, we are planting a tree with help from the Bonneville Environmental Foundation. Learn more

Donate Charity Miles: Our Charity Miles program offers members a unique and meaningful way to support important causes and use travel for impact. In 2019, our passengers donated 73 million miles, valued at over $2 million, to [10 partners, including The Nature Conservancy and the National Forest Foundation]. Read more

Pack light, fly direct, and purchase carbon offsets: Every pound you bring on the plane and every mile you travel matters. We encourage every guest to take the least amount of luggage possible and to pick the most direct flights to reduce the amount of emissions it takes to get you and your luggage to your destination. If you want to do more, you can offset your travel by participating in our carbon offset program. More info

Learn more about our sustainability efforts at FlySustainably.com.

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