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[Herald Interview] Finnair to halve carbon emissions by 2050

Finnair, the flagship carrier of Finland, on Thursday said it will go carbon neutral by 2020 and halve its carbon emissions by 2050.

In an aggressive attempt to make its operations greener, the company is set to use more planes that are fuel-efficient or run on bio-fuels, said Kati Ihamaki, vice president of the sustainable development unit at the Helsinki-based airliner, during a recent interview with The Korea Herald.

“Because we are a flight company, every drop of fuel we save is directly linked to our profit. Therefore, it is natural that we seek fuel-efficiency,” she said. Fuel accounts for about 40 percent of the airlines’ costs.

“We also think that this will lead to sustainable management because our eco-friendly approach in business also helps us grab new business opportunities in the green energy industry,” Ihamaki said. 
Kati Ihamaki, vice president of Finnair’s sustainable development unit (Finnair)
Kati Ihamaki, vice president of Finnair’s sustainable development unit (Finnair)

In 2011, Finnair became the first carrier to launch regular flights between Helsinki and Amsterdam using biofuel.

It flew an Airbus A330 from Helsinki to New York in September partially on used cooking fuel-based jet fuel to highlight the opening of the U.N. Climate Summit. The airliner also joined hands with alternative flight fuel maker SkyNRG in mixing used cooking fuel and ordinary fuel on a 1:1 basis, resulting in less carbon emissions.

Finnair was one of the first airliners to adopt Airbus A350 jets, which are known to use 5 percent less fuel and emit 20 percent less carbon compared to other ordinary planes. The model is expected to fly between Incheon and Helsinki starting in 2016.

‘‘Going green has become a mandatory thing for Finnair,” the executive said. The company’s environment department ― arguably the first in the world ― was established in 1987. “About 95 percent of our corporate customers put eco-friendliness as their evaluation criteria for tendering. Therefore, it is more than a branding tool for us to become eco-friendly,” she said.

Ihamaki admitted the green-policies are still in the investment stage and it will take a while to reap profits from them due to the high input costs. For now, biofuels are about three times pricier than traditional ones.

By Bae Ji-sook (
Korea Herald Youtube