Etihad Airways will be the first airline in the region to operate a flight without any single-use plastics on board, the company has announced on Wednesday April 17th.
The new initiative by the national airline of the UAE aims to raise awareness of the effects of plastic pollution and to approve the company responsibility towards the environment.
"Sustainable and efficient transport is core to the government's vision, and we commend Etihad's proactivity in paving the way for sustainability and efficiency in air transportation", said H.H. Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Transport.
The first flight to apply the new measure (Flight EY484) will take off from Abu Dhabi on 21 April to land in Brisbane on 22 April - Earth Day.
According to a statement issued Etihad Airways, the group has pledged to reduce single-use plastic usage by 80 per cent not just in-flight, but across the entire organisation by the end of 2022.
H.E. Mohamed Mubarak Fadhel Al Mazrouei, Chairman of the Group confirmed that it's an extension of Etihad's pioneering environmental efforts. Inaugurating 2019 with the locally sourced biofuel flight and the operation of the longest single-use plastic free flight are a testament to our commitment to leading effective change towards sustainability.
Tony Douglas, Group Chief Executive Officer, Etihad Aviation Group, said that the group discovered that it could remove 27 million single-use plastic lids from its inflight service a year, which will be a great effort for the environment.
The group has identified over 95 single-use plastic products used across aircraft cabins, most of which were replaced with eco-friendly alternatives including cups, cutlery, dishes, headset bags, cart seals and toothbrushes, the statement said.
As a result of planning the Earth Day flight, Etihad additionally committed to removing up to 20 per cent of the single-use plastic items on board by 1 June 2019. By the end of this year, Etihad will have removed 100 tonnes of single-use plastics from its inflight service.
In addition, employees of Etihad's Ramp Management team, based at Abu Dhabi International Airport, launched an initiative to reduce 1.6 million plastic bottles in a year. During the summer months, over 13,000 bottles are distributed daily. As of last month, 19-litre water dispensers were distributed across all break-room facilities, not only reducing single-use plastics but also saving the airline AED 800,000 yearly.
Meanwhile, as part of Etihad's commitment to sustainability, the airline will also work with the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi on their marine environment clean-up, amongst other initiatives, to ensure environmental sustainability.