- Southwest Airlines updated its sustainability strategy last week for how the company will reach its goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The company’s “Nonstop to Net Zero” strategy prioritizes reducing carbon emissions; improving circularity by sourcing, recycling and upcycling; and collaborating with stakeholders.
- The airline’s new targets include eliminating single-use plastics from inflight service by 2030, having half of all eligible ground support equipment electrified by 2030 and using its fuel savings program to save 1.1 billion cumulative gallons of fuel by 2035.
- The updated goals for Southwest, the fourth-largest US-based airline, will complement its existing net-zero goal, along with other prior carbon emissions reduction and jet fuel consumption goals.
Southwest is already on its way to completing its electrification of ground support equipment, having electrified 33% of eligible equipment. The airline is also working with airports to evaluate and expand the current electric infrastructure.
The company’s single-use plastics and jet fuel savings targets also come with interim targets for the air carrier. On the way to dropping single-use plastics from all “feasible” flights by 2030, Southwest aims to cut 50% of single-use plastics by weight from flights before 2025. The company has also enhanced its flight planning software to help cut back on jet fuel consumption, with a plan to save 50 million incremental gallons of fuel by 2025.
"We're working toward our decarbonization goals by modernizing our fleet with more fuel-efficient aircraft and securing sustainable aviation fuel, while also furthering our sustainability initiatives in the near-term," Helen Giles, Southwest’s managing director for environmental sustainability said in the release.
The company is also collaborating with ESG rating company EcoVadis to determine the environmental, social and governance performance of its supply chain.
Southwest has joined separate partnerships with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and General Electric this year to work on a sustainable flight project and a project that will combine engine and on-plane data, hybrid physics and machine learning to predict flight-caused clouds.
Additionally, last month the company signed an agreement with USA BioEnergy LLC to purchase 680 million gallons of sustainable aviation fuel over 20 years. The company said, when combined with traditional jet fuel, the purchase could produce the equivalent of 2.59 billion gallons of fuel with a carbon intensity of zero.
Further, the company said it aims to reduce the energy utilization index at its corporate headquarters in Dallas by 50% by 2035.
Southwest’s sustainability strides this year came on the heels of a December 2022 operational disruption that led to 16,700 flights canceled and more than $800 million in losses for the company. Shareholders filed a suit over the mishap in January.