Airlines around the world are slowly waking up to their responsibilities on climate change.  The pandemic of course will not help, delaying new aircraft purchases whilst they try to recoup the billions that they have lost. However, below are just a few recent developments to be aware of and some advice on how we can make better choices when flying.


  • First airline to fly a total ‘waste’ free flight.  All food packaging is recycled and completely plastic free.
  • Pilots now also taxi on one engine. One engine taxiing reduces emissions and saves fuel, essentially meaning 50% less carbon emitted. It’s a simple case of little things adding up to a big difference and lots of airlines are following suit. It’s the same approach with aircraft manuals now, these aren’t carried in printed format anymore but instead on an iPad. 

Read more here 


  • KLM has been quietly going about their sustainability programme for many years. They have a policy to have their ground operations at zero emission and 50% less CO2 per passenger by 2030 and they already have a flight to Los Angeles powered partly by bio fuel.
  • They are working on the Flying V project, a complete redesign of an aircraft, which has the potential to be 20% more fuel efficient than the newer, already more fuel efficient aircrafts.
  • The KLM CEO made the brave statement in 2019 that we should fly less. We’re big advocates of flying less and ensuring you fly when you have to, for longer international flights where there are not viable land options.
  • The French government made loans to Air France during the pandemic but banned them from flying when customers could take a train. So domestic routes will be dramatically cut. The French government gave the grant on the basis that Air France would review its domestic network. So instead of flying if you can catch a train in under 2.5 hours Air France can no longer operate the flight. 
  • KLM have been involved in this for a long time. They are ahead of the game in bio fuel and had ambitious plans for new aircraft but COVID-19 might push that date back a little.


  • BA have started to take the environment seriously of late, launching their BA Better World programme.
  • In September 2020, they flew a new Airbus 320neo from Heathrow to Glasgow. The flight was 35% powered by SAF (sustainable aviation fuel), all emissions were off set and NATs (air traffic control) directed the flight to avoid any levelling off for a ‘perfect flight’. The aircraft taxied on 1 ½ engines and was pulled by electric tugs at both airports. The flight achieved 62% less emissions than the same flight in 2010. You may see the aircraft in its special livery at Heathrow, affectionately known as Bluebird by aviation geeks!

The impact of the aircraft

  • Right now, whilst airlines work with science to make SAF in sufficient quantities and KLM to turn the model Flying V into something that could take passengers, choosing the newest and more efficient fuel aircrafts is the best thing we can do overall. 
  • In addition offsetting your emissions, which we at Steppes Travel do as part of your holiday, can also make a positive difference.

Do you know the A350 from the Triple or Dreamy from The Queen of the Sky?! 

Ask your travel expert for the options: 

  • Can you fly at a different time and avoid the Boeing 777 for the newer and more efficient A350. 
  • Could you fly from Birmingham with Emirates, as their two-cabin A380s are more efficient than their three/four-cabin aircrafts from Heathrow. 
  • If flying with United Airlines choose the beautiful new Dreamliner (Boeing 787) over the raft of really old aircraft that they are slowly losing from their fleet.

It’s a choice, and time and convenience will always win but if we are making a positive impact on the ground we need to be mindful of the skies too. 

Thanks for reading

Alison Frusher in Amsterdam

Author: Alison Frusher