Korean Air embarks on more major green initiatives

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March 06, 2022
Korean Air
A Korean Air Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. Photo: Korean Air.

In preparing for the future of carbon-neutral aviation, Korean Air has embarked on yet another green project to pioneer the Korean hydrogen fuel infrastructure.

In February, Korean Air signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Incheon International Airport Corporation (IIAC), Airbus, and Air Liquide to cooperate on supplying aviation hydrogen fuel and developing relevant infrastructure.

The MOU is aligned with Airbus’ aim to develop the world’s first zero-emission hydrogen-powered commercial aircraft by 2035 and confirms Korean Air as an active participant in welcoming this alternative energy paradigm shift.

The MOU paves way for the stakeholders to cooperate in various fields, from developing hydrogen infrastructure at airports, establishing a roadmap for introducing hydrogen, to ground handling logistics.

Korean Air will also focus its expertise on overall operational activities, including ground handling planning, maintenance, and flight operations, and IIAC on research and development of airport facilities. Airbus and Air Liquide will analyze domestic demand for hydrogen-powered aircraft, and establish a roadmap for the introduction of hydrogen fuel, respectively.

“This MOU will be a starting point for the Korean domestic aviation industry to systemize a hydrogen supply chain system and infrastructure development, where the introduction of hydrogen as an alternative fuel has been slow in relative comparison to other industries,” said Mr. Soo Keun Lee Executive Vice President and Chief Safety & Operation Officer, Korean Air.

Last year, Korean Air signed an MOU with Hyundai Oilbank to manufacture and promote the application of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and also partnered with SK Energy to purchase carbon-neutral jet fuel to be used on the Korean domestic network. In addition, the airline’s introduction of Airbus A220-300 to its fleet will reduce carbon emission per seat by 25 percent compared to existing models of similar capacity, demonstrating its commitment to environmental awareness.

Korean Air is committed to various means of carbon emissions reduction to achieve carbon neutrality, and also to the successful development of the Korean domestic hydrogen energy sector.

Photo: (From left to right) Guillaume Cottet (President and Representative Director, Air Liquide Korea), Fabrice Espinosa (President, Airbus Korea), Hyoung-Wook Jeon (Vice President of Infrastructure Division, IIAC), Soo Keun Lee (Executive Vice President and Chief Safety & Operation Officer, Korean Air).

Korean Air is actively participating in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)’s Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), and introducing eco-friendly and high-efficient aircraft.

In 2017, Korean Air became the first Korean airline to use sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) while in June last year, the airline also partnered with Hyundai Oil Bank to develop a foundation for biofuel manufacturing and its usage.

In 2019, Korean Air replaced single-use plastics such as straws, coffee stirrers, and cups with eco-friendly paper products, and has also conducted tree planting activities in Mongolia and China’s Kubuqi Desert.

Korean Air has also been working to improve its environmental, social, and governance (ESG) management, and established an ESG committee, which reviews its management strategies focusing on ESG.