How Cathay Pacific’s Sustainability Mission is Taking Off

Cathay Pacific is updating carbon-reduction targets and harnessing sustainable aviation fuel in a bid to be a ‘leading contributor’ to net-zero progress

Global aviation company Cathay Pacific has toughened up some of its sustainability targets as it looks to “lead by example” in moving its industry towards a low-carbon future.

The Hong Kong-based airline group – which includes Cathay Cargo, HK Express Airways, express carrier AHK and other subsidiaries – outlines its progress and aims in its 2023 Sustainability Report.

Highlights include:

  • Setting a new decarbonisation target by improving carbon intensity by 12% from the 2019 level by 2030
  • A new target to decrease passenger-facing single-use plastics items from an average of 7.7 pieces per passenger in 2019 to 1.5 pieces by 2025
  • A new 30% reduction by 2030 target for cabin waste from 2019 baseline
  • Buying 315 tonnes of certified sustainable and traceable seafood in 2023, accounting for 73% of its total seafood purchase
  • Delivering 11 next-generation aircraft, including two A350-900 and nine A321neo planes.

'It requires collective efforts'

CEO Ronald Lam, writing in the foreword to the report, admits that sustainability in the aviation industry is challenging.

He said: “Sustainability is inherent in Cathay’s purpose – to move people forward in life in a sustainable and responsible manner for current and future generations.

“We understand that achieving this purpose in a sustainable and responsible manner for current and future generations requires collective efforts.

“By embracing the collaborative ethos of ‘Greener Together’, we aim to lead by example and reach new heights in building a more sustainable future.”

Cathay Pacific

Three ways for programme to take off

The report says there are three main aspects to Cathay’s sustainability efforts:

  • Committing to near-term climate improvements by building upon its pledge to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050
  • Moving towards more sustainable use of resources, including reducing cabin waste by 30% from the 2019 baseline by 2030
  • Accelerating the use of SAF, which ‘remains the most important lever for achieving Cathay’s new carbon intensity target and net-zero operations in the long run’.

Ronald said: “In 2023, we continued to lead the charge in accelerating SAF development and deployment in the region, working towards our ambitious 10% SAF use by 2030 goal.

“We have forged a strategic partnership with the State Power Investment Corporation Limited (SPIC) to support SAF production in the Chinese Mainland and started our collaboration with the Civil Aviation University of China (CAUC) to explore new technologies and commercial possibilities of SAF.”

Cathay Pacific Group employs 23,800 people worldwide. It has a fleet of 230 aircraft and runs scheduled flights to 92 locations.

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