Airlines are the world’s biggest contributors when it comes to pollution and emission. During the current pandemic, the number of pollution and emission caused by air travel may be dropped significantly. However, when the borders open and the number of air travel pick up again, the number and pollution produced by airlines will soar up yet again.   

Some airlines have their way to redeem their pollution and emission. Some also in the run to become the most eco-friendly airline in the world through various initiatives such as cutting the use of plastic for its in-flight meal serving, using the newest aircraft with low energy consumption, to urging passengers to be more eco-conscious.

In 2019, carbon offset started to be widely applied by airlines around the world. Carbon offset is an initiative to compensate the fuel consumption—which is related to massive pollution and carbon emission. The program comes in various forms, from reforestation, waste management, to invest in various conservation organizations.

For example, in January 2019, Finnair launched Push for Change program in collaboration with NEFCO, an environmental organization for Nordic countries. With this program, Finnair customers are invited to donate with an amount range from one to six euros. The fund then will be distributed to Mozambique in Africa to buy modern stoves to replace traditional ones used by its citizen which often led to deforestation. Through Push for Change, Finnair also raises funds from its customers for biofuel research.

Not all airlines believe in passing on the responsibility of minimizing emissions to their customers. Emirates, for instance. The Dubai-based airline took all the responsibility by changing all of its fleets with newer and eco-friendly ones. Emirates also applies a waste management system as well as a water efficiency initiative. Last but not least, the airline also donated some money to conservation organizations in Australia and Uni Arab Emirates.

Qantas, Australia flag carrier, has become a pioneer in eco-friendly initiatives amongst airlines in the world. In 2007, the airline has had acquired climate-neutral certification from NCOS Carbon Neutral Program. Qantas also the sole airline that run the biggest carbon offset in the world with over 2.5 million tons of carbon emission. It offers its passengers to donate and distribute the money—without taking any profit—to various organizations in the world, such as for the reforestation of rain forest in Papua New Guinea.

Up until now, the decision to start a carbon offset program depends on each airline. But, eco-warrior shall rejoice! In 2018, the United Nations has signed Carbon Offsetting & Reduction Scheme for International Aviation that regulates all airlines who operate across-continents flights must have a carbon offset program by 2021.