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The future of air travel: How flying can become more sustainable

The future of air travel: How flying can become more sustainable

According to recent data, in 2022, the aviation industry accounted for 2% of all CO2 emissions. Over the past few decades, flying has developed much more than roads, rails and shipping. Following the days of the pandemic, when people couldn’t even leave their homes, let alone travel, the number of international trips has climbed back up again, being around 80% of the pre-pandemic levels. 

And even though the new aircraft is much more efficient than the models they have replaced, climate activists remain concerned about their impact on the environment. Here are some of the measures the industry could adopt to become environmentally friendly and leave the allegations of unsustainability in the past. 

Education 

Becoming more educated about the environment, how climate change works and how global warming harms the planet are all crucial when it comes to offsetting the damage of greenhouse gas emissions on the planet. Posters, digital displays, informative programs and announcements are all effective ways to raise awareness about the effects of travelling. Sustainable aviation fuel, also known as SAF, is made from any feedstock other than crude oil. The supply is currently limited, but it can be a way to significantly reduce emissions. 

It can be blended at levels of anywhere between 10% and 50%, depending on how it is produced. Most of the fuel used comes from renewable sources and includes rapeseed, palm oil or corn. It can also be derived from the by-products of previous production processes, so food waste and cooking oils might also prove efficient. 

Parking 

Although it is an often-overlooked consideration, airport parking is crucial for the space to function well. Heathrow Airport parking, for instance, is vital when you’re embarking on a long trip and want to be sure that your vehicle is well-protected in the meantime. There are several ways in which parking lots could become more sustainable. The first and most important is the installation of an electric vehicle charging station. Although electric cars have become more popular over the past few years, the infrastructure necessary to keep them running is often lacking, creating challenges for drivers. 

Using solar power or other alternative forms of creating electricity helps as well. Clean energy from sunlight harnesses the power and drastically reduces the carbon footprint associated with the facilities. Even when eco-friendly energy isn’t used broadly, LED lighting and other energy-efficient designs should still be utilised. Many of these appliances and devices generally have longer lifespans as well. Many of them are also designed to include smart lighting control and natural ventilation. 

Airport parking Gatwick cycle parking is available as well, in the South Terminal on the south of A23 and next to NCR21. This is the perfect thing for eco-conscious travellers who prefer to go on their bikes instead of behind the wheel of a car. And, of course, there’s always the option to install green roofs and harvest rainwater to reduce wastage. The design also enhances the space’s aesthetic appeal and minimises the heat island effect that is so common around urban areas. 

Incentives 

Incentives play a crucial role in helping the passengers address their own carbon emissions. The easiest way to offset the emissions is directly from the airline by choosing to pay an extra fee alongside the usual flying costs. The sum will later be redirected to a carbon offset scheme. While this type of program is still not universal, it is much more popular than it used to be not long ago. It’s essential to do your research before picking an offer. 

You should analyse how the offsets are calculated. There might be a problem if they’re just mileage-based, there might be a problem, but figures resulting from more comprehensive analysis are more trustworthy. The type of projects the airline is funding, the percentage of the money that goes into the environmental ventures, and the certification they possess will all offer you a clear indication of what you can expect. 

Technology 

Tech solutions are revolutionising all industry areas, helping make the world more efficient and sustainable. Aviation is already heavily reliant on technology and complex systems, so it only makes sense that it will continue to develop in this area. Artificial intelligence and machine learning can help airlines determine the most efficient flight paths that can minimise the incidence of delays, reduce fuel consumption, and help the environment. 

Wind speed, temperature and weather patterns are analysed side by side to reduce flying times. Some airlines already use these metrics to decrease emissions and claim that they have saved 2.5 million metric tonnes yearly. Companies can also sell their SAF investments as ancillary that go towards the development of sustainable fuels. This could help accelerate the adoption of more sustainable methods, which can often be pricey and are still in the earlier development stages. 

Technology can also be used to decrease the load factor. Any unnecessary weight should be balanced well because it increases the amount of fuel that is burned. The typical figures show that anywhere between 2.5 to 4.5% of the additional weight is used per hour of flight. If seat capacity is maximised, and the space for essential cargo is enlarged while also setting luggage weight restrictions in place and minimising the number of unnecessary items, all of this could be a concern of the past. 

Airports of Tomorrow 

Airports are also rethinking what they could do to become more sustainable and align with environmental considerations. The initiative known as Airports of Tomorrow focuses on meeting these demands through the creation of new infrastructure that can facilitate the transition to clean energy. It aims to bring climate experts, government leaders and representatives from the aviation industry together to find solutions that can help the sector reach net zero emission goals. 

Sustainability is becoming increasingly important for individuals, institutions, corporations and legislators. People are becoming more aware of the existential threat created by a warming planet and the fact that everyone must do their part to avert a worsening situation and an Earth that would become truly hostile to life. 

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BDC 314 : Mar 2024