Delta Commits $1 Billion to Sustainable Air Travel


By Demola Ojo

Starting March 1, 2020, Delta Air Lines is committing $1 billion over the next 10 years on its journey to mitigate all emissions from its global business, going forward. 

This announcement comes as Delta paid $1.6 billion in profit sharing to employees on Valentine’s Day, and reflects its long-standing approach to placing a high value on supporting all stakeholders and communities worldwide. 

The Valentine’s Day announcement coincided with the unveiling of a special “thank you” plane featuring the names of the airline’s 90,000-plus employees on its livery.

The announcement means Delta is the first airline to make a commitment of that scale as it plans to become the world’s first carbon-neutral airline.

The aviation industry accounts for roughly 2% of global carbon dioxide emissions and has set out a plan to achieve carbon-neutral growth from 2020, even as air travel is forecast to accelerate.

Facing increasing demands from customers, individual airlines like Delta have taken additional steps to mitigate their carbon impact with measures ranging from eliminating single-use plastics to investing in biofuels and purchasing more fuel-efficient aircraft.

“There’s no challenge we face that is in greater need of innovation than environmental sustainability, and we know there is no single solution. We are digging deep into the issues, examining every corner of our business, engaging experts, building coalitions, fostering partnerships and driving innovation,” said Ed Bastian, Delta’s CEO.

The airline will invest in driving innovation, advancing clean air travel technologies, accelerating the reduction of carbon emissions and waste, and establishing new projects to mitigate the balance of emissions. 

“There is no substitute for the power that travel has to connect people, which our world needs today more than ever before. As we connect customers around the globe, it is our responsibility to deliver on our promise to bring people together and ensure the utmost care for our environment,” said Bastian.

 “The time is now to accelerate our investments and establish an ambitious commitment that the entire Delta team will deliver.”  

Delta’s approach to tackling carbon reduction and sustainability reflects the focus and rigor it has become known for, and that it used to build a financially secure airline. 

Bastian said. “We are on a journey, and though we don’t have all the answers today, we know that our scale, along with investments of time, talent and resources will bring meaningful impact to the planet and ensure the sustainability of our business for decades to come.”

Delta’s carbon footprint is its largest environmental impact, with 98 per cent of emissions coming from its aircraft. This year will see a number of milestones that demonstrate Delta’s progress and commitment, and that Delta will share broadly as each of them launch. 

Powered by its 90,000 people around the world, Delta is the US global airline leader in products, services, innovation, reliability and customer experience. 

From being the first and only US airline to voluntarily cap greenhouse gas emissions at 2012 levels, to adding more than 80 new aircraft in 2019 in an effort to renew its fleet with aircraft that are 25 per cent more fuel efficient than the aircraft they are replacing, Delta has been undertaking a multi-year effort to achieve more sustainable air travel.