Southwest Airlines plans to reduce carbon emissions by 20 percent per available seat mile and boost sustainable aviation fuel use as it spends $US10 billion on new planes by 2030.
A newly launched 10-year environmental sustainability plan commits the US carrier to using sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) for 10 percent of its total jet fuel by the end of the decade.
It will also introduce the first US-based airline carbon offset scheme with loyalty points and a dollar-for-dollar matching contribution from the airline.
To help it reach its goal, Southwest will continue to modernize its fleet with more fuel-efficient Boeing 737 MAX aircraft and accelerated retirement of B737-700s.
The airline said it would will invest more than $US10 billion in new and existing firm aircraft orders in its quest to further improve fuel efficiency and reduce carbon emissions.
It would also continue to work with the US Federal Aviation Administration’s NextGen air traffic management program to make airspace more efficient, electrify ground vehicles and add to fuel efficiency initiatives.
On the road to achieving 10 percent SAF use, the airline is establishing a partnership with producer Neste for up to five million gallons through to December 2023, and working with Marathon Petroleum Company and Phillips 66 to “facilitate the development and production of SAF at significant scale”.
Offsets have not proven popular with most passengers but Southwest intends to sweeten the deal with loyalty points. It will also match every dollar contributed towards offsetting emissions.
A Green Incentive Program will also provide corporate customers an opportunity to earn and use funds for their company’s sustainability.
SouthWest’s Dallas corporate campus has been sourcing 100 percent renewable electricity since May using renewable energy certificates.
Other initiatives include partnerships with various organizations and a move to “repurpose” leather seat coverings.
“In 2020, nearly 140,000 pounds of leather seat covers were repurposed, helping Southwest reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills while also generating social and economic opportunities for communities,’’ the airline said.