Emirates airline to take the lead on sustainability, says Clark

Emirates Airline president Sir Tim Clark has said more can be done to improve sustainability in the aviation industry and called on all ground vehicles to be powered by electric.

Clark previously said he thought the idea of electrically powered aeroplanes was “pie in the sky” during an interview with the Emirates World Interviews podcast series with Steve Harvey.

However, he said the Dubai-based carrier is ready to “lead the way” when it comes to making the industry more environmentally friendly.

“It’s not just about what we’re serving on board our aeroplanes, taking plastic straws or removing plastics, it’s an ecosystem of wastage – the use of materials that are not sustainable in the future, given the environmental pressures that we face on the planet today,” he said.

“Whether it calls for electrically operated ground equipment that many of our passengers will look out of the window, they’ll see catering trucks, they’ll see fuelling trucks, they’ll see baggage off-loading vehicles. All these need to be electrically powered, so we’re removing the toxic fumes, particularly around airfields.”

Emirates has made a network-wide commitment to reduce single-use plastics on board its aircraft.

Eco-friendly paper straws have been introduced and, in addition to plastic straws, plastic swizzle sticks and stirrers will also be replaced with eco-friendly alternatives by the end of the year.

While plastic bags used for inflight retail purchases have also been replaced with paper bags.

These initiatives will remove an estimated 81.7 million single-use plastic items from landfill each year, Emirates added.

However, Clark maintained that more should be done. He said: “As far as Emirates is concerned, and Dnata, which is the primary handling agent, we really have to get to grips with this far more rapidly, in a meaningful manner. We need to walk the talk. In the environmental world today there is too much talking, not enough walking.”

He added: “My view is that, it’s a personal one, that if we put our minds to it, whether it be use of plastics, whether it be use of engines and various other combustible materials that are used, if we really put our minds to it, we could take probably 20 percent of the toxicity out of the environment today if we really worked at it and it’s not difficult to do. It just needs cohesion. We’ve got to do better than we are and I think Emirates will try and lead on this.

“Hopefully it won’t degrade our products but in the end we must do the right thing by the planet. If things aren’t quite as cosy and as rich as it used to be, that’s because we are taking our obligations very seriously.”

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