Cathay Pacific has twenty twenty vision. In that they have developed twenty commitments as part of their Sustainable Development (SD) Strategy, all to be achieved by 2020. The most striking of these is this: to achieve a 31 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions per passenger or tonne of cargo carried compared to 2009 levels. With only six years to go to achieve this vision, Cathay Pacific has, of course, been working towards these targets for many years already, creating its first sustainability report in 2009. Climate change is Cathay Pacific’s highest environmental priority, investing in fleet renewal, implementing a fuel monitoring system, using lighter weight on-board equipment and utilising flight techniques and planning systems that reduce fuel use. In addition, Cathay Pacific is also a member of the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group which aims accelerate the use of sustainable biofuels.
Meanwhile, customers have an opportunity to support renewable energy projects that help reduce their own personal CO2 footprint, using the FLY greener carbon offset programme. Launched in 2007, this was the first ever carbon offset programme in Asia. These projects are aimed at supporting communities in Cathay’s destinations, and are just one of many community engagement efforts. Because Cathay’s SD policy is about people as much as it is about place. It has a Community Investment Strategy focused on youth and education, medical care and conservation, with impacts and outcomes of projects measured using London Benchmarking Group model.
Cathay Pacific’s own community’s voice is also heard loud and clear. The company runs an annual ideas competition called We Suggest, where staff submits ideas to help the company become more innovative, and in 2012 the theme was sustainability. This ethos of staff as stakeholders in sustainability extends throughout the Group. For example, Cathay Pacific Holidays is raising awareness among staff to identify opportunities to cooperate with the local communities. One of these is by increasing the number of ecotourism packages on offer to guests which, until Cathay identifies assured sustainable tourism operators, is still up in the air.
Everything else going up in the air with Cathay aims to be sustainable, however. For example, the amenity bag offered to Premium Economy customers is an eco-design, made with recycled plastic and containing a biodegradable cornstarch toothbrush. Food procurement is aimed at meeting high sustainable standards and suppliers must also, when possible, be able to show clear and accurate reporting on how they are adhering to Cathay’s Supply Chain Code of Conduct. Recycling on board is also a source of pride with six hundred tonnes of inflight waste recycled in 2012, with an aim to increase recycling by 25 per cent by, yes, 2020.
Cathay Pacific is flying way ahead of 2020, however, with an aspiration to achieve a fifty per cent reduction in net CO2 emissions by 2050 relative to 2005 levels. In this respect, they could be said to be working towards fuel bottles that are half full. In all other areas of sustainability, however, they are firing on all cylinders.