KLM participating in the Sustainable Flight Challenge

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Two special KLM flights took off from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol on Saturday, May 7 to Canada and Portugal. Flight KL0675 to Edmonton, Canada, and flight KL1713 to Porto, Portugal, have undergone the widest possible array of sustainability measures. Initiated by KLM employees, the Sustainable Flight Challenge will see sixteen SkyTeam Airline Alliance members competing with a view to sharing insight and experience on sustainability, thereby accelerating the drive towards greater sustainability throughout our industry.

The two most effective ways of reducing CO2 emissions are fleet renewal and the use of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). That is why the KLM flight to Edmonton and the KLM Cityhopper flight to Porto were operated by the two most economical aircraft in their respective fleets, the Boeing 787-10 and Embraer 190, both of which will be powered by a fuel blend consisting of 39% SAF. In addition, a wide array of new weight-reduction measures were taken on board. World Business Class passengers were asked to choose their preferred meal in advance, for example, and AI modelling was used to predict inflight water requirements, ensuring that the precise volume was catered. Naturally, KLM has informed passengers that their flight has a special purpose, providing them with information on how they can travel more sustainable, for example by supporting the CO2ZERO compensation programme or by contributing to SAF.

Pilots worked with air traffic controllers to fly the most efficient route, avoiding the detours that flights often face. Loading was fully optimised to ensure the best centre of gravity, improving aerodynamics and generating fuel savings ranging from 1.5 to 2%. Cargo in the belly was stacked on lighter pallets and secured with lighter nets and transport companies delivering cargo were asked to use vehicles powered by electricity or biodiesel. A total of more than 50 existing and new measures were taken aboard both flights, involving all KLM divisions as well as partners such as Edmonton Airport, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, Air Traffic Control the Netherlands (LVNL) and General Electric. The impact of the latest measures will be evaluated to see whether they are worth implementing in the short term.

“In 2019, KLM reached out to the industry with our Fly Responsibly initiative, in which we urged stakeholders to join forces and share best practices to make flying more sustainable. During the pandemic, KLM stepped up the pace and developed ten bold moves in the field of sustainability, including the Sustainable Flight Challenge which has now become reality. Everyone at KLM has worked extremely hard to make this flight as sustainable as possible. The beauty of the Challenge is that it has fired up the enthusiasm of our people, inspiring them to come up with fresh ideas directed at achieving the best results.

“But what I also find encouraging is that the participating airlines are sharing lessons learned and that both our customers and partners, including engine manufacturers and SAF producers, are involved. The Challenge only has winners, because our cooperation makes improvements in sustainability both possible and achievable. I’m happy and proud to have been on this special flight, to see the enthusiasm of our KLM teams and partners, and to experience the outstanding spirit of cooperation here in Edmonton. It is a wonderful example of how we can work together to improve sustainability and support one another in the process. KLM and Edmonton share a vision and are equally ambitious and determined in their commitment to achieving greater sustainability,” said Pieter Elbers, KLM president and CEO