The BTA – Will travel emerge from the pandemic greener?

This was the topic for our Friday 17th July FGA online presentation and discussion with the Business Travel Association members. The answer was in short, yes it will.

North Yorkshire’s clean skies

During the meeting we discussed sustainable aviation fuel, FGA sustainable travel solutions and the industry appetite for environmental changes to business on the build back better recovery path. The same day McKinsey published an article called ‘Make it better, not just safer: The opportunity to reinvent travel’, so we are seeing there is much thought leadership happening within the space on what recovery should and is going to look like in what we call ‘the new normal’.

As I personally saw from visiting London this week things are not normal. It was quiet, some cafes, bars and restaurants are closed. The air is cleaner and things are going to change. As more will work from home, how can we carve out what we want for the future and what will be important in work, play and travel? We have our approach – FGA Travel Smart: sustainable travel policies, sustainable aviation fuel commitments, more permanent remote working, mental health and well being initiatives. Have you started to think about yours?

Many believe that virtual meetings have allowed us to stay connected and continue business as close to usual as possible, and frequent and corporate flyers have said they won’t travel as much. At the same time many planes are being retired out of service like the A380 and B747 and questions are being asked about next steps for jobs and recovery in the travel sector. Tourism and travel accounting for 10% of global GDP so it is very important.

Travel is opening up, train journeys will increase, so will local holidays and road trips. So how can the aviation sector strengthen its offer to emerge greener? And how can they get customers on board with this too? It will cost money. Sustainability isn’t cheap. The Jet Zero Council has just launched in the UK, the Prime Minister stating: “We should set ourselves the goal now of producing the world’s first zero-emission long-haul passenger plane.” As Airbus announced this Summer that it does now have a plane that can fly on 100% sustainable aviation fuel, the statement of carbon-neutral air travel can become true in the coming years.

Our approach is more collaboration and global commitments. We started some work on 12th June when there were up 27 aviation stakeholders on our co-hosted online meeting to discuss next steps in green recovery (poster below). The aviation stakeholder subsequently made a joint build-back-better-commitment on 24th June which you can read about here, so collaborative recovery work is beginning. It’s a critical time for all businesses but especially those that rely heavily on fossil fuels, travel and events. The next steps will be key to success, survival and a good reputation.

Re-fly saf

Amex GBT, our partner, have made some progressive announcements during the pandemic updating their booking engine, Neo, to filter on carbon as well as price and time and were the first travel management company to offset their own travel just last month. Also choosing to partner with FGA, as they see their customers want more sustainable travel solutions which we are working on with the airlines, airports, the sustainability sector and corporates. Some will emerge stronger and smarter but it’s going to take some strategic thinking and change to do so.

Feedback from one attendee was: “We are starting to have initial conversations with some customers around sustainable travel policies for the first time.  I guess the time is now”.

We carried out a few polls throughout the discussion on Friday and opened up the floor to the group of almost 50. 

One poll asked about sustainable aviation fuel. Up to 50% of the BTA members had heard of sustainable aviation fuel, we’ll keep checking on this figure until we’re at 100% .

Sustainable travel policies and FGA Travel Smart are ways companies can embed sustainability and carbon neutral targets into their business with a travel focus. We are presenting our work to travel management companies and corporate travellers as we believe through an alliance and leading examples we can shift travel into a new era, so we can keep it feeling special, exciting and cool but also more sustainable.

Get in touch with us to discuss how FGA can work with you to recover from the pandemic stronger:

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