South African Airways (SAA) has joined an internationally benchmarked and transparent carbon offset programme which will give passengers an opportunity to make voluntary contributions to offset the effects of climate change.
"The environment, along with safety and security, is one of our top priorities and we are working constantly to limit and offset the impact on our environment. Through this entirely voluntary system, we are giving our customers the opportunity to make ours a better and more sustainable planet," SAA chief executive officer Siza Mzimela said on Sunday.
The world's first internationally benchmarked programme allows SAA customers to offset a percentage of flight emissions where customers can conveniently buy carbon offset credits together with their air tickets in a single transaction on www.flysaa.com
The credits that will be generated through the programme will go towards funding projects that will help communities to limit their impact on the environment, slowing the pace of climate change.
The airline has selected projects that follow strict auditing rules and are monitored by independent third parties and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The national airline also supports the Uganda Stoves Project that provides stoves to families in a country that is increasingly affected by deforestation and air pollution. The project aims to install 20,000 efficient wood-burning stoves annually.
The stoves contribute to improved health by reducing kitchen smoke and the number of trees that need to be cut down for fuel. Without the carbon offset funds, the new stoves are too expensive for most families and institutions.
"As an environmentally-conscious business, SAA continuously looks at growing its array of initiatives towards creating a healthier and cleaner environment. Our latest fleet additions - the Airbus A330-200 and A320 - are among the most fuel-efficient aircraft in the world and are powered by the latest versions of highly fuel-efficient jet engines," said Mzimela.
The Airbus A330-200 first fleet arrived last February at the Cape Town International Airport. At the time President Jacob Zuma said the fleet was set to change and improve the way South Africans fly.
SAA has also partnered with Airbus's subsidiary, Quovadis, to design and implement new navigation performance procedures specifically designed to reduce fuel burn and CO2 emissions by saving about 20 nautical miles (about 37km) on approach for landing and 10 nautical miles (about 18.5km) during the climb after take-off.
These distance savings translate directly into reduced fuel usage and lower emissions.