In August 2016, Virgin America celebrated nine years of service to passengers throughout the United States and Mexico. Looking back over nearly a decade of operations, the California-based airline released the 2016 Sustainability Report, detailing its numerous environmental initiatives and the significant measurable impact they have had on the carrier’s overall sustainability, as well as the sustainable goals it plans to pursue moving forward.
Since its first flight in 2008, Virgin America has successfully implemented 25 fuel-efficiency initiatives that have yielded fuel savings of more than 12 million gallons, allowing the airline to exceed the industry average for fuel efficiency. The carrier has also worked to reduce waste generated by its own operations and those of its partners, emphasized recycling, and leveraged new technologies to limit noise pollution.
Virgin America’s fleet of Airbus A320 family aircraft outshines comparable US fleets in terms of age and fuel efficiency, and additional innovations ranging from sustainable engines to advanced navigational systems have allowed the airline to further improve its environmental sustainability. In 2008, Virgin America invited passengers to help offset their personal carbon emissions via a unique interface included in its seatback entertainment system, and since then, the airline has taken measures to counter more than 15 million pounds of C02 emissions.
In acknowledging nine years of environmentally conscious operations, Virgin America also took the opportunity to highlight new sustainable goals for the future. Seeking to maintain its role as an industry leader in sustainability, Virgin seeks to achieve year-on-year fuel efficiency increases of at least 1.5 percent until 2020, at which point it plans to achieve a net carbon emissions cap. Following this, the airline plans to operate on a carbon neutral basis, and by 2050, Virgin America hopes to have cut carbon emissions by 50 percent compared to levels recorded in 2005.
Dedicated to honoring American service members, Island Air offered select discounts to eligible military personnel on Veterans Day 2015. On November 11, the airline enabled active and retired military members to purchase interisland flights with a special 50 percent discount on base fares.
For more than 35 years, Island Air has offered a large volume of flights between Hawaiian destinations such as Lanai, Oahu, and Maui. To purchase discounted tickets, veterans could visit the Island Air ticket counters at Honolulu International Airport, Lanai Airport, and Kahului Airport. Military personnel also had the opportunity to visit Wet ’n’ Wild Hawaii, where they enjoyed special admission and the opportunity to purchase discounted plane tickets on site.
Island Air CEO Dave Pflieger hailed the discount as a way to recognize the selfless service of men and women in the U.S. Armed Forces. Pflieger, a former officer and B52 pilot in the U.S. Air Force, expressed hope that the promotion would enable service members to spend quality time with their families in Hawaii.
Chinese travelers wanting to spend their next New Year’s holiday in the South Pacific can include Fiji on their list of easily accessible destinations, thanks to a new partnership between Fiji Airways and Fiji-based tourism leader Rosie Holidays.
Together with Fiji Airways, Rosie Holidays plans to operate charter flights to the Fijian city of Nadi from both Shanghai and Beijing during the Chinese New Year celebrations in February 2016. The planned flights, four in total, will help introduce 1,100 new Chinese tourists to Fiji. This is more than double the 500 travelers who visited Fiji earlier this year using two initial charter flights from Rosie Holidays.
The new charter flights are an important step in Fiji’s overall strategy to generate more tourism in the region during what is typically a low point in the season. Taking advantage of the high number of outbound tourists from China during New Year's celebrations is a move that makes sense for both countries. It is hoped that the initiative will benefit not only Rosie Holidays, a 100 percent Fijian owned and operated company employing over 600 people, but also many other players in the hotel and tourism industry throughout Fiji.
Since 2001, the Mamanuca Environment Society (MES) has dedicated itself to defending the environment of Fiji’s Mamanuca Islands. This nonprofit environmental conservation society partners with residents, government organizations, and companies throughout Fiji and nearby resorts in the Mamanuca and Yasawa Islands, as it works to raise support and awareness for the area’s marine and coastal resources.
One of the Mamanuca Environment Society’s many initiatives aimed at protecting local flora and fauna is its recurring snorkeling workshop. At the request of its member resorts, the society regularly presents refresher workshops for resort activities staff to ensure that they are taking a safe and environmentally conscious approach to their tourist snorkeling excursions. Over two days, the MES snorkeling workshop instructs staff on the importance of conserving marine wildlife, specifically coral reefs. In doing so, it enables staff members to pass on this knowledge to guests and further promote conservation efforts.
The workshop also includes practical elements such as effective strategies for teaching both basic and advanced snorkeling techniques. In addition to preparing staff to lead guests on a snorkel tour, it covers basic first aid and rescue skills, teaches participants how to properly observe marine wildlife and coral formations without harming either one.
About David Pflieger
David Pflieger - Senior Airline Executive