Just in time for the launch of the UN climate summit in Madrid today (2nd Dec.), the Antalya, Turkey-based carrier SunExpress (code: SXS) has launched a much-applauded ecological
initiative, that can be a role model for the aviation industry.
The various green schemes are also intended to raise employees' awareness of ecological aspects.
One of these projects is a new forest planted by airline staff and volunteers under the guidance of local forestry experts near the Turkish capital Ankara. There, 10,000 seedlings were planted on
a sandy area of waste ground to convert it into a wooded landscape. Honoring the carrier’s 30th anniversary, it was given the name "SunExpress Jubilee Forest.” And also, in Izmir, where an area
of 500 hectares of forest was destroyed by fire in summer, SunExpress plans to convert the wasteland into a forest in 2020.
In case of droughts, not uncommon in Turkey, local airline employees and their families have committed themselves to irrigate the young plants and look after their well-being.
Employees sit in the green driver seat
These and alike ecological projects are driven by the carrier’s ‘Green Alliance’, a voluntary network made up from staff members of the airline. Their ambitious aim is to realize one comparable forestation scheme per year at each of the destinations served by the carrier. In Turkey these are as many as 19, making SXS the third largest domestic carrier, after Turkish Airlines and Pegasus.
Banning plastic on board the fleet
But the forest initiative is only one element of a broader “greening” strategy launched by SXS, explains Chief Commercial Officer Peter Glade. “As a matter of fact, we started banning all plastic items on board our aircraft, such as stirrers, straws, plastic cups, foils and alike items and replaced them by natural produce mostly made of recycled wood, generating less waste at the end of the day.” This saves weight and reduces fuel consumption, he adds. Only food served during flights, as Turkish law demands, must still be sealed in foil for hygienic reasons.
Thanks to this environmentally friendly strategy, SunExpress will save almost 10 million plastic articles in 2020, states the carrier in a release.
Furthermore, solar panels on the roof of the new Antalya headquarters guarantee SXS’s self-sufficiency in energy. They are another piece in the broad green mosaic pushed up front by the airline.
Modern fleet is best tool to lower emissions
As a “by product,” these many projects will sharpen the awareness of employees and their families for a more environmentally friendly behavior in everyday life, Mr Glade is convinced. “It needs a fundamental mind change in consumption, production and personal behavior,” states the manager, “and we at SunExpress want to give it a go.”
But the most efficient item helping the environment best is an efficient fleet, emitting less greenhouse gases, such as the Boeing 747 MAX, he says.
Despite the grounding of the Boeing variant following two fatal crashes caused by a new flight control feature called Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), which repeatedly forced the airplane into nosedives, SXS’s first operations with the jetliner proved to be extremely encouraging with regard to the fuel burn, confirms the manager.
In total, the airline ordered 25 of the B737 MAX, hoping that authorities such as the FAA will lift the ban in the near future, provided tests have proven that the aircraft is absolutely safe.
Cargo ups productivity
Touching the relevance of air freight, Mr Glade points out that Lufthansa Cargo manages the freight business on all international routes, while partner Turkish Airlines is responsible for marketing the lower deck capacity of the fleet on domestic Turkish routes. This combination works very well, he assures, contributing positively to the airline’s utilization.
Both Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines are joint stakeholders in SunExpress, owning 50% each.
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