The Singapore Airlines (SIA) Group this week announced its commitment to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, reinforcing its long-standing strategy of working toward decarbonization and environmental sustainability across its operations. The group’s airlines—Singapore Airlines, Scoot and SIA Cargo—will use multiple levers to achieve this goal; these include investing in new-generation aircraft, achieving higher operational efficiency, adopting low-carbon technology, such as sustainable aviation fuels, and sourcing for high-quality carbon offsets.
SIA Group says it has pursued multiple projects in support of its sustainability goals even amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, the group completed the installation of solar panels on all of its office buildings in Singapore; this generates renewable energy that provides up to 18 percent of its electricity demand, or enough to power around 2,300 four-room apartments in Singapore for a year.
In 2020, SIA rolled out a new regional Economy Class meal concept that offers increased food choices for customers. It includes tableware comprising sustainable paper packaging and bamboo cutlery, reducing the amount of single-use plastic in the cabin. This packaging also weighs 50 percent less, helping to lower fuel consumption. Everything from the tableware to the food waste is then sent to an eco-digestor to be converted to refuse-derived energy pellets that can replace fossil fuels and coal.
Achieving Net-Zero Carbon Emissions by 2050
The SIA Group’s aircraft fleet has an average age of five years 10 months, and it continues to invest in the latest technology. The group’s order book comprises new-generation models, such as Airbus’ A350-900 and A320neo Family and Boeing’s 777-9, 787 Family and 737-8 Max. These aircraft are up to 30 percent more fuel-efficient and have reduced carbon emissions compared to older models.
There is also a focus on increasing fuel efficiency through improvements in operational procedures. For example, SIA Group has invested in engineering improvement packages for airframes and engines, which help to reduce drag and improve engine efficiency. The group’s airlines continuously aim to improve fuel productivity through initiatives, such as reducing fuel usage through aircraft weight management and optimization of flight routes. Innovations in technology and data analytics will also pave the way for more significant improvements, the group says, adding it will continue to engage research institutions to explore such ideas.
Good to know: Singapore Airlines has been an active member of the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group (SAFUG) since 2011. In 2017, SIA launched a series of green package flights from San Francisco to Singapore that incorporated sustainable aviation fuels, fuel-efficient aircraft and optimized air traffic management measures. In 2020, SIA worked with Stockholm’s Swedavia Airport to uplift sustainable aviation fuels on flights departing from the city. These activities have helped to improve the group’s understanding of the logistics and procurement of renewable fuels. SIA is actively working with partners and stakeholders to explore opportunities to scale up the adoption of sustainable aviation fuels across our network.
Beyond reducing direct emissions, carbon offsetting can play an important and complementary role. SIA Group is a participant in the International Civil Aviation Organization’s “Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation” (CORSIA), which seeks to cap the industry’s growth in carbon emissions from 2020. While offsetting is particularly important in the mid-term, it is also expected to remain relevant in the long run to mitigate residual emissions.
As the SIA Group embarks on this journey toward net-zero emissions by 2050, it will continue to collaborate with like-minded partners to develop a sustainable aviation fuel supply chain and carbon market. This includes working with stakeholders in Singapore to develop a holistic decarbonization plan, which complements Singapore’s goal of strengthening the country’s air hub and maintaining its competitive advantage into the future.