Sustainability dominates GBTA Conference

By Andy Hoskins, published 22/11/19

Sustainability took centre stage at the GBTA Conference in Munich this week, as delegates addressed the urgent need to adopt more environmentally friendly practices.

Travel managers, TMCs and airlines aired their views, all espousing the need for action, but a show of hands revealed only a small minority of delegates have sustainable travel policies in place.

Mette Bank, Regional Travel Manager for Lego, said her organisation is “seeing increasing demand from our travellers for sustainable solutions,” while Lonneke de Kort of bookdifferent.com said the WWF operates its travel policy with both monetary and CO2 emissions budgets.

“Many companies offset air emissions but offsetting is just the first step. Reducing emissions should be the goal,” said de Kort.

“Try and avoid travel before thinking about compensating it, and make the most sustainable options your preferred suppliers,” she advised. “That helps incentivise suppliers too.”

In the same week that easyJet announced a move to offset all its fuel-related emissions, United Airline’s Jake Cefolia told delegates that United was concentrating on mitigating emissions using biofuels.

It is the only US airline to use biofuel in its regular operations, including to help sustainably power every flight from its Los Angeles hub.

Meanwhile, Lufthansa’s Jurgen Siebenrock said the airline has not seen any evidence of ‘flygskam’ – flight-shaming – in any form of passenger traffic decline as has been seen in Sweden.

Boeing’s Marketing Vice President, Randy Tinseth, said: “I don’t think anyone should be ashamed of flying,” adding that there is no alternative to flying for around 80% of all flights.

Tinseth said that while Boeing is investing in making more environmentally friendly aircraft, governments also need to take responsibility and invest in alternatives fuels and better airspace management.

Despite all the positive talk of adopting more environmentally friendly practices, a show of hands revealed only a small minority of delegates had sustainable travel policies in place.

New research from GBTA and Concur arrived at a similar conclusion, with its survey suggesting change is not yet filtering through to corporate travel policies.

A poll of attendees showed 69% were confident or very confident in the industry’s ability to make the future more sustainable.