Mr. Shane Hussein, Fiji Airways General Manager Corporate Communications.
Fiji Airways is one of the most influential businesses in Fiji and the Pacific. It is the airline that most people from the Pacific island countries use to travel within the region and to other continents. For this reason the Pacific Green Business Centre was curious to learn what were the plans of the airline to become a greener business. Mr. Hussein’s responses gave us an insight of what the airline is planning to do in this area.
Q1. Fiji Airways has in the past taken up some social and environmental initiatives. Could you tell us about some of these and whether the airline is taking steps to reduce its environmental impact?
Fiji Airways takes great pride and responsibility in being the National Airline of Fiji. There are a number of initiatives in which we provide support to local communities, as well as towards environmental conservation.
Our charity arm is called Wings of Hope, funds from which have benefited Nadi Hospital, Treasure House Children’s Home (home for orphaned children), FRIEND scholarship fund for underprivileged children, and the Mamanuca Environment Society.
Our current community assistance portfolio consists of Adopt-A-School (providing funds for the rebuild of South Taveuni Primary and Secondary Schools which were severely damaged by Cyclone Winston), Friends of Fiji Heart Foundation, and our very own Every Take-off One Tree. This initiative was the brainchild of our CEO Andre Viljoen and sees us plant one tree for every take-off.
Q2. The Pacific has taken a strong stand on climate change. Considering Fiji’s presidency of COP23 and Fiji Airways displaying the COP23 logo on its aircraft, and the recent decisions by ICAO, what would be the airline’s vision on reducing its carbon emissions?
Last year the Fiji Airways Group planted in excess of 5000 trees (hardwood and mangroves).
In 2018, the aim is to plant more than 7000 trees. Bearing in mind our geographic location as a country surrounded by ocean and the vulnerabilities associated with it, we have committed 2018 to planting mangroves exclusively through the assistance of the Ministry of Forests.
We are proud of Fiji’s COP23 Presidency, which we showcased by displaying the COP23 logo on our jet aircraft. We are under no illusions and we understand that as an airline, the very nature of our business results in a significant carbon footprint.
However, we are taking steps, big and small, to ensure that we mitigate our environmental impact as much as possible.
Every Take-off One Tree is an example of this and has proven to be a wonderful way to create dialogue and bring the Fiji Airways team together to create awareness on human impact on the environment, as well as what we can all do to counter it.
In addition, the Fiji Airways Group is investing heavily in renewing its fleet to more fuel efficient aircraft, both for Fiji Airways and Fiji Link. Fiji Link has just received its last (on the current order) Viking twin Otter and now has an average fleet age of 1 year 8 months.
Newer aircraft generally means more advanced technology and design that results in reduced fuel emissions. Fiji Airways will be welcoming its first of five Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft in November, our single aisle aircraft which will be used to service our busiest routes to Australia, New Zealand and some regional destinations. The company is also in the middle of fleet negotiations with Boeing and Airbus to determine the future of our long haul fleet. At a minimum, these aircraft will be 25% more fuel efficient and in the long term, reduce our footprint.
Fiji Airways is also exploring a number of options for our passengers to offset their carbon footprint.
Q3. Flights generate a large amount of waste. Are there any initiatives you think could be implemented to reduce waste on flights?
We are currently in the process of carrying out a complete inflight audit of onboard plastics and wastage. The results of this audit will drive a project which will aim to remove as much plastics onboard, find more sustainable solutions, recycle, upcycle, and reduce waste.
“The large scale vision of all these actions is to be an organisation that leads by example and takes a principal role in championing conservation and improve the environmental impact of air travel in the region.”
Note: If you enjoyed reading this Exec Interview you may also enjoy reading our other previous interviews. You can find them here.