In the age of the pandemic, private aviation businesses including VistaJet, Airly and SHY Aviation have increasingly become the preferred choice of travel for leaders, executives and professionals able to afford such luxury.
Simultaneously, the current climate has also influenced a rise in the scrutiny of private jet companies – as each jet will burn 40 times as much carbon per passenger as regular commercial flights, according to a report by aviation firm Honeywell Aerospace.
The Air Transport Action Group – a not-for-profit association that represents the air transport sector – shows that the aviation industry as a whole is responsible for about 2% of greenhouse gas emissions – with private aviation at around 0.04%. However, demand for new private jets continues to grow.
“We are positive about the future, and we believe together, we can transform business aviation for the long-term good.” – Thomas Flohr
VistaJet is one private airline business that is aiming to reduce its carbon footprint, with the company recently sharing its first progress update on its Sustainability in Aviation pledge, which launched in January 2020.
“VistaJet is committed to making aviation better,” says Founder and Chairman Thomas Flohr. “Today, this means changing the way we operate to benefit not only our customers but the whole global community.”
The company has also announced its new partnership with SkyNRG, a pioneer for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).
The SAF industry has made advancements since its inception, yet the availability of sustainable fuels for jet aeroplanes is limited due to financial, technical and regulatory reasons. There are also only a few hubs globally where sustainable biojet fuel is available, and it still only accounts for less than 0.1% of total aviation fuel consumption.
To make access more readily available, VistaJet has signed a new partnership with SkyNRG, offering all its customers around the globe access to sustainable aviation fuel.
VistaJet believes this move will promote substantial reductions in aviation carbon emissions and increase demand and availability around the world.
The company has also shared its first progress update on VistaJet’s eight pillars of sustainability.
VistaJet’s carbon offset program
Since introducing the Sustainability in Aviation pledge, 80% of VistaJet members have chosen to compensate their fuel use-related emissions by investing in certified carbon credits.
This step has allowed VistaJet to offset almost 100,000 tonnes of CO2 on behalf of its customers – equivalent to over 21,600 passenger vehicles driven for one year or more than 12.7 billion smartphones charged.
Sustainable aviation fuel
The VistaJet brand’s primary emission source is aviation fuel, representing 89% of the total greenhouse gas emissions and comprising emissions from the production, processing, delivery and combustion of aviation fuel.
While offsetting reduces carbon footprint, using a fuel with a lower carbon intensity would significantly reduce the industry’s emissions – the use of SAF can reduce carbon emissions by up to 85% compared to conventional jet fuel.
Technologically advanced aircraft
VistaJet’s shared fleet model means less aircraft being produced and enables higher usage of each existing jet.
Additionally, the company’s young fleet benefits from the latest technology for efficient flying and secures better fuel burn than older aircraft.
Its new Global 7500 fleet is the “most technologically advanced aircraft” available today. The aircraft includes new GE Passport engines that produce less noise and fuel consumption of approximately 2.5 litres per functional unit. Its high-speed transonic wing cuts down on drag, further reducing fuel burn and emissions.
Fuel consumption reduction technology
Through investment in artificial intelligence and machine-learning technology, the company is working on predictive route algorithms to minimise ferry flights and reduce fuel consumption.
To date, using the FLIGHTKEYS 5D flight management system, the company has been able to optimise route, level and speed to reduce fuel consumption by 8% per flight.
The heightened system automation allows VistaJet dispatchers to increase in-flight efficiency re-planning, while 3D optimisation in congested airspace minimised the possibility of slot issues and delays.
Fuel efficient booking system
Booking with at least one week’s notice helps to improve fleet management further, reducing unnecessary fuel burn.
For VistaJet members, the early booking program can provide a discount on rates and is available as an option for new contracts.
Customers who are more flexible on departure airport selection have already helped to reduce movement around London airports by 20% in 2019, cutting several tonnes of CO2.
Partnering with sustainable leaders
VistaJet partners with carbon-neutral companies where possible and has implemented new requirements for all purchasing partners, including sustainability accreditation for third parties across all departments in the business.
Additionally, more than 100 onboard stock vendors were contacted to introduce more sustainable products.
Sustainable in-flight products
VistaJet has removed over 90% of single-use items across its fleet and replaced items on board with sustainable alternatives.
Examples include packaging products using starch that biodegrades in one year, replacing plastic toothbrushes with those made of bamboo and sourcing low-impact detergents and cleaning products. This is in addition to serving meals on porcelain and crystalware.
Moving to renewable electricity
Electricity consumption represents 24% of the total emissions for VistaJet offices specifically. To decrease these on-the-ground levels, the company has adopted electricity supplied from renewable sources for two of its largest offices and is assessing solutions for the others.
Other schemes such as cycling to work and flexible location working are being rolled out to decrease employee emissions.
VistaJet’s call to action
Although private aviation plays a relatively limited role in the global landscape of carbon emissions, demand for mobility is increasing, despite a decline in passenger demand this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“While the aviation industry has started discussing on multiple fronts with regulators, leaders in aviation cannot wait and must lead the way by investing in all available, robust solutions to drive the transition to zero-carbon,” the company stated.
“VistaJet has dedicated itself to reducing its environmental footprint and affect positive change through innovation.”
The company’s founder hopes that private aviation partners and peers will follow suit and work collaboratively to bring change faster.
“This is the only way for the fragmented industry to take full responsibility for the long-term health of the planet,” Thomas says.
“In addition to adhering to market-based measures and improving existing infrastructure, enhancing operational procedures and developing new technological innovations is crucial.
“We are positive about the future, and we believe together, we can transform business aviation for the long-term good.”