Aviation: aligning on a model for emissions reporting

April 13th, 2022

Travalyst exists to ensure the overall impact of tourism is net positive, and harnessed as a key driver towards a sustainable future for our planet. We have brought together some of the biggest global brands in travel with a goal of leveraging their collective power across the industry, and ensuring consumers can make more sustainable choices when they travel. The aviation sector is critical to this ambition, and together our coalition seeks to create awareness and industry-wide alignment on the journey to decarbonisation; beginning with emissions reporting.

The problem

Aviation is one of the most challenging sectors in which to reduce carbon emissions; given the long life cycles of aircraft fleets, high cost and low supply of sustainable fuel alternatives, and slow-to-adapt policy environments. Without accelerated action, there is a serious risk that decarbonisation targets will be missed which could lead to aviation, and tourism as a whole, becoming an unviable industry.

A united global effort to achieve decarbonisation of the aviation sector is critical and will require a multitude of levers including technological advancements, new policy, investment, upscaled alternative fuel production and consumer action. The latter – consumer action – is a largely untapped area of potential: however the Travalyst Coalition has seen time and time again the effectiveness of consumer demand once education and actionable solutions are made available, such as with Skyscanner’s Greener Choices product. So far in aviation, efforts to coalesce the information and tools to empower consumers have been staggered and this opportunity has yet to be realised; consumers often feel powerless and are faced with the choice of not flying at all, or a varying degree of guilt associated with their actions.

In recent research undertaken by Skyscanner, two thirds (65%) of global consumers agreed that making travel more sustainable is vital, however almost a quarter (23%) of respondents say they don’t know how to travel more sustainably, with one in five (21%) citing a lack of easily accessible information as a barrier.

Many operators and online travel platforms have begun creating ways to calculate carbon emissions for flights and share this information with consumers; however there are a growing number of differing methods for calculating and presenting this information, which makes it increasingly difficult for travellers to interpret and make more informed decisions.

Travalyst opportunity

Travalyst facilitates pre-competitive collaboration between some of the world’s largest brands working in travel, and together we intend to leverage our collective reach and insights to drive mass consumer adoption of more sustainable travel products. To start, this means giving consumers the information and power to book a flight with lower than average carbon emissions. 

Within our aviation working group, we are collaborating in order to provide accurate and consistent data and tools to help educate travellers about the impact of their decisions, and use this platform to help shift demand. The first step is ensuring that the major platforms that consumers visit to search for or book flights are showing the same emissions data, as transparently as possible. By accessing clear, consistent and easy-to-understand information across the travel platforms, consumers can begin to feel empowered and understand that making a better choice is possible. This is one step on a journey towards shifting the market towards net zero and creating a strong and resilient future for our industry.

What this looks like

Our working group, led by two of the most influential contributors to the online aviation industry, have successfully aligned behind a single model for flight emissions reporting; in order to demonstrate clarity and consistency across the industry and for the consumer. This means that whether you are booking your flight on Skyscanner or Google (and in the near future the rest of the distribution platforms in our coalition, and more widely across the industry) you will be shown the same information. 

This model will be developed and improved over time with a goal of assessing a broader view of sustainability, beyond emissions. Currently, factors taken into account in the model are: 

  • Origin and destination
  • Aircraft types
  • Cabin class and seat configuration
  • Load factor (estimate)

As a consumer searching for your next flight, just look for the following across the Google and Skyscanner platforms: 

Skyscanner

To learn more about how this works, a document explaining the methodology and general principles of the model for emissions reporting can be found here.

Our principles

This is an important first step, and one we will continue to iterate on. In the long term, our aviation work will:  

  • Provide travellers with a transparent way to easily understand and compare travel options, no matter where they book their travel 
  • Provide airline partners with the tools and information to accelerate their sustainability efforts
  • Be trusted, accurate and reliable 
  • Be available to all industry players and serves as a benchmark for aviation sustainability