Austrian Airlines AG was recently ordered to walk back claims that the company was using 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) on flights between Vienna and Venice. While SAF may be the future of the aviation industry, it currently accounts for .1% of all fuel used in aviation. Additionally, the maximum possible SAF in any flight is 5% of total fuel consumption making the claim both false and impossible.
ESG Today covered the case, writing that:
“According to the ruling, Austrian Airlines gave a false impression through advertising statements such as ‘Fly CO2-neutral with us,’ or ‘100% SAF.’ Marketed for flights between Vienna and Venice, the campaign allowed consumers to pay a surcharge in excess of 50% of the ticket price for the CO2-neutral option, with the airline purchasing SAF to be added to future flights.”
Whether this was a a mix-up between R&D and Marketing or something intentional is unknown, but it adds another case study to the growing body of greenwashing litigation against airlines. Austrian Airlines parent company Lufthansa is also in hot water with UK regulators over their environmental impacts. Additionally, Austrian Airlines, along with 17 other EU airlines, is involved in yet another complaint before the European Consumer Organization for misleading environmental claims.
Implementing sustainability practices is proving difficult for commercial aviation which contributes between 2-3% of global GHG emissions. This industry crackdown on greenwashing may signal to other hard-to-abate sectors that they should only market around what they can do and have done, not what they wish they could do.
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