Delta invests $2 million for study of potential facility to produce biofuel from forest floor debris

Delta Air Lines has made this announcement:

As part of its ongoing commitment to sustainability, Delta Air Lines is investing $2 million to partner with Northwest Advanced Bio-fuels, LLC for the feasibility study of a biofuel production facility to produce sustainable aviation fuel and other biofuel products.

The sustainable aviation fuel, expected to be produced in a facility in Washington State, could be used in Delta operations at stations in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles. NWABF’s project would utilize wood residue deposits and wood slash lying on forest floors to produce the biofuel, which would qualify under an approved carbon-reducing pathway recognized by the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM). NWABF plans first delivery of the fuel by the end of 2023.

“While Delta continues to take actions toward our long-term goal of reducing carbon emissions by 50 percent by 2050, fuel is a key area where we are examining opportunities to create real sustainability differences and drive accountability across the entire business as we lower our environmental impact,” said Alison Lathrop, Delta’s Managing Director — Global Environment, Sustainability and Compliance.

Delta expects the feasibility study to be complete by the middle of 2020. At that time, Delta will evaluate the next steps in moving forward with the project’s development.

“This single project could provide approximately 10 percent of Delta’s annual jet fuel consumption in the West Coast region and, if successful, could become the blueprint for future projects to support Delta’s goal to further reduce its carbon footprint,” said Graeme Burnett, Delta’s Senior Vice President — Fuel Management. “This project has additional environmental benefits because it reduces wood residuals in forests, which can increase potential fire hazards and inhibit future tree growth.”

“We are excited to partner with Delta Air Lines in lowering the airline’s carbon footprint and supporting Delta’s sustainability strategy,” said Dave Smoot, Head of Northwest Advanced Bio-Fuels, LLC. “This project combines proven technologies to produce exceptional quality sustainable aviation fuel on a large scale from renewable feedstock resources.”

“Our research demonstrates that using forest harvest residuals to produce sustainable aviation fuels, not only reduces emissions from the aviation sector but also provides for much needed jobs in the rural and timber-dependent regions of the Pacific Northwest,” said Michael Wolcott, co-director of the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA) and professor at Washington State University.

Delta’s ongoing sustainability efforts

Delta’s sustainability strategy is comprehensive and focuses on true responsibility. The airline drives accountability and evaluates areas of opportunity across the business to lower its environmental impact. Since 2005, the airline has reduced its jet fuel consumption, leading to an 11 percent decrease in emissions as it works toward its long-term goal of reducing carbon emissions by 50 percent by 2050.

Delta was the first and only U.S. airline to voluntarily cap carbon emissions at 2012 levels by purchasing carbon offsets ahead of the ICAO CORSIA implementation, which caps international emissions at 2019/2020 levels. It is the first U.S. airline to recycle aluminum cans, plastic bottles and cups, and newspapers and magazines from aircraft, accounting for the recycling of more than 3 million pounds of aluminum from onboard waste. The airline also removed a variety of single-use plastic items, including stir sticks, wrappers, utensils and straws from its aircraft and Delta Sky Clubs.

In July, Delta flew the first of 20 carbon-neutral new aircraft delivery flights from the Airbus final assembly line in Mobile, Ala., utilizing biofuels and carbon offsets in coordination with Air BP.

In 2018, Delta created Green Up, an employee-led resource group that establishes sustainability ambassadors throughout the company, resulting in initiatives such as the donation of retired uniforms when the company introduced new ones for frontline employees, which diverted more than 350,000 pounds of textiles from landfills. The airline also removed plastic wrapping from international Main Cabin cutlery and its new amenity kits unveiled June 4, the latter of which diverts 30,951 pounds of plastic from landfills annually.

These sustainability efforts have resulted in Delta being awarded the Vision for America Award by Keep America Beautiful in 2017 and the Captain Planet Foundation’s Superhero Corporate Award in 2018, as well as being named to the FTSE4Good Index five consecutive years and the Dow Jones Sustainability North America Index nine consecutive years.


American Airlines’ Miami hub turns 30

American Airlines made this announcement:

For the last 46 years, I’ve called Miami International Airport (MIA) my professional home — first at Braniff International Airways, followed by Piedmont Airlines. On Oct. 22, 1983, I made the move to American Airlines, and I’ve proudly been a part of the company ever since.

Back then, about 125 of us ran American’s operation, and with only five daily flights, it was like running our own small business. I started as a Fleet Service Clerk, loading and unloading bags. But a year later, I became the airline’s first Automotive Mechanic at MIA, fixing and maintaining the ground service equipment used to transport baggage and cargo.

By 1989, we were up to 19 flights a day and about 200 team members at MIA when American purchased routes belonging to Eastern Airlines. But more importantly, MIA became a major hub for American and its primary gateway to Latin America and the Caribbean. And American has been committed to the region ever since. I’ve seen the company persevere through ups and downs, and I always stuck with them because they stuck with me.

Flash forward to today, we’ve grown to more than 350 daily flights to more than 127 destinations across three continents. It’s been incredible to witness the evolution of American’s economic impact in South Florida. Last year alone, our 13,500 team members cared for nearly 30 million customers who were traveling to, through and from MIA. The growth of the airport itself has been impressive, too. I’ve seen decades of construction to make way for more customers, airlines and flights.

For the last 15 years, I’ve been privileged to have the title of Crew Chief, leading a terrific group of automotive mechanics. Together we maintain more than 3,000 pieces of ground service equipment behind the scenes to move 1 million pounds of cargo and 80,000 bags around the airport each day.

I hope the time I’ve spent here at MIA has in some way paved a path for the next generation and left a positive legacy at American. My message to those who follow is that you can never stop dreaming. American hasn’t stopped dreaming in Miami, and as we celebrate 30 years as a hub, I can only think that the best is yet to come. On behalf of American and my more than 130,000 colleagues, thanks for flying with us today.

Tony Gomez
Automotive Mechanic Crew Chief
Ground Service Equipment

Qatar Airways to fly to Osaka, Japan

Qatar Airways has announced services to Osaka, Japan starting from April 6, 2020. The second largest metropolitan area of Japan, Osaka will be the airline’s third gateway into the country. Qatar Airways began direct services to Tokyo Narita in 2010 and launched its Tokyo Haneda service in 2014 from Doha’s Hamad International Airport (HIA).

The flight will be operated by an Airbus A350-900 aircraft, featuring 36 seats in Business Class and 247 seats in Economy Class. The operation will initially begin with a five times weekly service, increasing to a daily service from June 23, 2020.

Flight schedule:

Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday (Tuesday and Thursday added from 23 June 2020)

QR802: Departs DOH 02:10hrs, Arrives KIX 17:50hrs

QR803: Departs KIX 23:30hrs, Arrives DOH 04:50hrs

British Airways launches a dedicated support team for customers with accessibility needs

British Airways has made this announcement:

  • Airline announces next phase of multi-million pounds investment for customers requiring additional assistance with introduction of 20-strong team of accessibility experts
  • Team will assist more than half a million customers with disabilities who fly each year – their enquiries were formerly handled by airline’s general customer service team
  • New direct phone line now connects customers straight to specialist team
  • Part of British Airways’ £6.5bn investment for customers and follows the launch earlier this year of airline’s new staff training programme to improve assistance for customers with hidden and visible disabilities

In the latest phase of its £6.5 billion investment for customers, British Airways has launched a dedicated customer care team for travelers who require additional assistance to ensure every journey they take with the airline is as straightforward and stress-free as possible.

The hand-picked team of customer service professionals received specialist training* to enable them to answer any questions customers have when they get in touch via phone or email and will help them understand what to expect during their journey.

They will also be able to help:

  • Make new flight, hotel and car hire bookings
  • Arrange bespoke assistance for customers
  • Pre-book seating
  • Inform airport staff and cabin crew about specific requirements
  • Provide information and support to empower more customers to have the confidence to fly

Carolina Martinoli, British Airways’ Director of Brand and Customer Experience said: “I am really excited about the possibilities the new team will open up for the 50,000 customers requiring additional assistance who travel with us each month. Every member of the team is incredibly passionate about helping our customers and enabling them to relax and enjoy British Airways’ unique service.”

In April, British Airways became the first and only airline to be awarded the renowned Autism Friendly Award by the National Autistic Society and has now become the first airline to produce a Visual Guide to Flying to help customers prepare for their flight. The guide, which can be found on the airline’s website, is endorsed by the National Autistic Society and explains the sights, sounds, smells and experiences customers may encounter during their journey**.

Accessibility training program

Earlier this year British Airways began its largest ever accessibility staff training programme for almost 30,000 customer-facing colleagues. Since the introduction of the Beyond Accessibility Programme in January, the carrier has seen a significant increase in customer satisfaction from travellers who require additional assistance.

Aiming to become the airline of choice for customers with both hidden and visible disabilities, British Airways has worked with disability specialists to produce materials for the new programme. They include a new library of short videos providing information about different types of hidden disabilities and practical advice on how to support customers at each stage of their journey, and a new training video to help staff support and confidently interact with customers who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Victoria Williams, Founder of terptree, which produced the video said: “We are delighted to have worked with British Airways to help its employees understand how to support their deaf customers. This has included collaborating with a team of professional deaf filmmakers who produced, directed and shot a training film to teach staff simple British Sign Language.”

Photo: British Airways.

Expedia Group and United Airlines announce multi-year agreement

Expedia Group has announced it has signed a new, multi-year agreement with United Airlines, which operates flights to nearly 360 destinations in 57 countries. This new agreement ushers in an expanded relationship, meeting the strategic objectives of both companies and benefiting travelers around the world.

The agreement continues Expedia Group’s leisure distribution with United, expands United’s relationship with Expedia Partner Solutions, builds on United’s relationship with Egencia, Expedia Group’s corporate travel business, and the companies will work to expand cooperation into other areas in the near future.

Autonomous wheelchairs are coming to airports, Abu Dhabi is the first

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates has launched an innovative trial of autonomous wheelchairs at Abu Dhabi International Airport, in advance of its move to the new Midfield Terminal. The trial is a partnership between Etihad Airways and Abu Dhabi Airports in collaboration with personal electric vehicle supplier WHILL and information technology company SITA.

The WHILL ‘Autonomous Drive System’ wheelchairs enable guests with restricted mobility to move around the airport environment on their own, without the need for assistance from a member of staff. The introduction of the autonomous option provides guests with the choice of freedom or to have traditional assistance via a team of dedicated porters, which will remain available.

The trial, which will last until the end of the year, will involve intensive testing and mapping of the airport environment to facilitate autonomous movement. This wheelchair is a first for any airline and airport in the region and features sensors to detect obstructions, providing an automatic ‘stop’ function. Future features in the pipeline include real-time gate and boarding time updates for guests.

The final stage of the trial will involve guests of the airline, with restricted mobility, self-driving the wheelchairs through Abu Dhabi International Airport, navigating through the duty-free shops and lounges to their departure gate, without the need of assistance from a member of staff. On arrival at the gate, and once the guest has boarded the flight, the wheelchairs will have the capability to return themselves to the collection point without staff involvement.

In addition to this trial, the airline is exploring other technologies that can ease the stress of travelling for guests with other impairments such as blindness and deafness.

Japan Airlines announces relocation plans to Moscow Sheremetyevo International Airport

Japan Airlines (JAL) revealed upcoming plans to relocate services to Moscow Sheremetyevo International Airport. The carrier has operated flights from Tokyo to Moscow consecutively since 1967.

JAL announced a comprehensive business partnership with Aeroflot Russian Airlines (SU) in 2017. Aeroflot’s gateway hub is located at Sheremetyevo airport. Aeroflot has the largest network in Russia, allowing customers to conveniently travel to numerous destinations from Sheremetyevo airport.

Once the relocation is completed in 2020, JAL plans to start a codeshare partnership with Aeroflot, strengthening the relationship between the two carriers. Additionally, JAL will operate a new route between Tokyo Narita and Vladivostokduring the summer schedule of 2020. This enables JAL continued contributions to the economic development and cultural exchange between Japan and Russia.

Easily accessible from Moscow’s city center, Sheremetyevo airport’s modern infrastructure provides a high level of service for passengers. Sheremetyevo airport has been recognized for its high level of customer service by ACI’s global Airport Service Quality (ASQ) program for 2018. 2018 saw Sheremetyevo named to the ACI Director General’s Roll of Excellence. This prestigious list features airports that have been ranked the best in the ACI’s ASQ customer service quality ratings at least five times within the last 10 years.