KLM Royal Dutch Airlines: pioneering a sustainable future for aviation

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KLM Royal Dutch Airlines: pioneering a sustainable future for aviation

Discover how Dutch airline KLM continues to establish itself as industry leader through its commitments to sustainability.

KLM’s name is important. Founded over a 100 years ago, KLM pioneered commercial aviation and is today the oldest airline in the world still operating under its original name. With that name comes heritage, recognition, and a reputation it must live up to. To stay relevant and maintain its lead in the industry, KLM must continue to adapt and evolve with the changing times, and nothing is more important to the airline than its commitment to safety, and its efforts to reduce its carbon footprint.

As a long-standing industry leader, KLM is used to challenges . From global instabilities to changing economic conditions, the Dutch airline has successfully navigated a constantly evolving landscape. But never has a challenge presented itself like that of the looming climate crisis. The main challenge comes from the fact the aviation industry is relying on fossil kerosine to operate and the growing ‘pressure’ from society to transform into a more sustainable business.

KLM’s history with sustainability predates most airlines, initially collaborating with WWF almost 15 years ago to establish the first climate plan, which the airline is still building upon today. By 2030, KLM is set to reduce all CO2 emissions by 15% compared to 2005, as well as delivering a completely carbon neutral ground operation.

“The main challenge is to replace fossil fuels with a sustainable alternative,” said Mitch Näring, Pilot, KLM Fuel Efficiency Team. “Until we get there, everybody in KLM will take the responsibility to optimise the processes so that we can operate as safe and sustainable as possible.”

Efficiency measures are already in place to ensure that the amount of fuel carried onboard is limited but still within a safe level, as every drop of extra weight decreases efficiency and increases the need to expel more fuel. Measures are also in place to ensure that flights can leave earlier than their departure times so as to spend more time in the air, travelling slower and more efficiently.

Since 2009, the airline has been committed to incorporating the use of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) in their aircraft. Unfortunately there is still a very small amount of SAF produced in the world. As technology advances and there are more innovations in alternative fuels, it is expected that the aviation industry will use a mix of technologies, for example waste and residue streams, for the production of SAF in the future.

“In the future, we will also source fuel from a dedicated plant in the Netherlands that will be ready for use from 2023 onwards,” explained Remona Van Der Zon, Sustainability and Reporting Manager, KLM. “There is still a challenge to overcome between the supply of sustainable fuel and the demand, so we need to work together with Industry partners and the government to create a competitive market for SAF.”

KLM recognises the importance of taking responsibility and the impact the sector can have, both positively and negatively, on the environment. By implementing change now and inspiring others to do the same, KLM can lead the way in creating a more responsible business world, and a more sustainable future.


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