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The Aviation Industry Gets On Board The Sustainability Flight – Malta Airport

2 Aug 2019 12:00 | Anonymous
The Accountant – Sustainability. Summer 2019 (MIA Publication)
A Booming Industry with Serious Climate Goals
The advent of low-cost airlines has made travel more affordable, allowing avid travellers to see more of the world and leading the aviation industry to experience a boom over the past years. Further growth is on the horizon, with international air traffic set to double within the next 15 to 20 years while aviation is forecast to directly contribute $1.5 trillion to world GDP by 2036. Moreover, a recent report issued by Airports Council International revealed that a 10% increase in direct connectivity translates into an additional increase of 0.5% in GDP per capita. 
The economic benefits of this thriving industry are self-evident, but with them comes a big responsibility to ensure that this growth is sustainable and keeps in focus wider climate action. The aviation industry, which is responsible for around 2% of global CO2 emissions, has been championing climate action through the establishment of a series of ambitious goals such as a commitment to improved fuel efficiency and a reduction in its emissions. A decade ago, the industry declared its intention to slash its net CO2 emissions by half of what they were in 2005 by 2050. More recently the airport sector, led by Airports Council International Europe, took this pledge a step further with a landmark resolution stipulating a commitment to net zero carbon emissions by 2050.     
Leading aviation authorities, including the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and Airports Council International (ACI), have endorsed or established initiatives such as the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) and the Airport Carbon Accreditation (ACA) Programme. Helping both airlines and airports understand factors such as direct and indirect emissions as well as share best green practices, these programmes put aviation stakeholders in a better position to aspire to carbon-neutral growth and contribute to the realisation of the industry’s climate goals.
Malta International Airport’s  Commitment to Reducing its  Carbon Footprint


Set up by ACI a decade ago, the Airport Carbon Accreditation programme now boasts 266 participants, with Malta Airport having been a member since 2016 as part of its environmental commitments. All member airports are striving to be greener, cleaner, and more environmentally sustainable, with guidance and recommendations from industry experts enabling them to move from one of the four levels of the programme up to the next. Malta Airport is at the mapping stage of this programme and has been making noteworthy progress with regard to its carbon footprint. Like many other airports worldwide, measuring, reporting, and setting year-on-year targets for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have become central to Malta Airport’s environmental responsibility efforts. 
The company’s fourth sustainability report adhering to the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) standard revealed that, in 2018, passenger traffic through Malta International Airport increased by more than 13%, while the airport’s GHG emission intensity registered a drop of 12% to stand at a new low of 0.92kg of CO2 per boarded passenger. Put simply, this means that while energy-intensive operations have been on the increase to cater for more passengers, GHG emissions are on the decline mainly as a result of the company’s gradual implementation of various eco-friendly measures and complemented by Malta’s cleaner energy mix, which also comes into play for the purpose of this metric. 
Malta International Airport’s investment in photovoltaic panels for the period stretching from 2016 to 2019 amounts to more than €1.2 million and, in 2018, the airport PV system generated more than 602,000 kWh of clean energy. To put this into better perspective, during the same year, SkyParks Business Centre, a BREEAM-certified building on the airport campus which houses around 1,000 employees, consumed just over 831,000 kWh of electrical energy. To be able to make the most of the 300 days of sunshine that grace the Maltese islands almost every year and aim for further GHG emission reductions, the airport is currently installing a 1,000 kWp system on the airfield. Another photovoltaic system of the same capacity is envisaged for the rooftop of Malta International Airport’s new multi-storey car park, making it a net zero energy building.
A Three-Pillared Approach to  Sustainability
Malta Airport’s efforts to safeguard the environment are always made in tandem with equally important commitments to the organisation’s economic and social responsibilities, with the ultimate aim to achieve a healthy triple bottom line. In fact, the GRI guidelines, which are voluntarily followed by the company in compiling its independently audited sustainability report every year, are based on three sustainability pillars: economic, social, and environmental.
Malta Airport understands the importance of its role to the local economy and aims to achieve sustainable economic growth which benefits the company and the country as a whole. A key player in the tourism industry, the airport works closely with other important sector stakeholders to develop passenger traffic in a sustainable manner, notably by promoting Malta as an ideal year-round destination so as to address seasonality. The company’s most recent sustainability report revealed that 2018 was the fifth year during which the winter and shoulder months outpaced the peak summer months in terms of growth.
Moreover, in line with its diversification strategy, the company also invests significantly in its non-aviation segment, which encompasses amongst others its VIP product, SkyParks Business Centre, car parking, and F&B outlets. In 2018, both the company’s aviation and non-aviation segments performed exceptionally well, enabling the company to improve the economic value it distributed in the form of operating costs, employee wages and benefits, payments to providers of capital, payments to government, and community investments by 5.7%. In turn, both community investments and good employee wages and benefits are central to the company’s efforts to be socially responsible and leave a positive impact on its people and wider local communities.
The Malta Airport Foundation to Enhance Malta’s Tourism Product
With the local tourism industry being the company’s home ground, a significant effort goes into enhancing Malta’s tourism product through investment in a number of projects. Established in 2014 to help the airport reach this goal, the independently administered Malta Airport Foundation has so far invested more than half a million euro to safeguard and increase awareness about the island’s heritage, making Malta a more appealing tourist destination and a better place for locals.
Just days ago, the Foundation officially opened a newly restored coastal watch tower: Torri Xutu in Wied iż-Żurrieq. This inauguration marks the successful completion of the first large-scale project by Foundation. Recognising the importance of the sea and underwater world to the quality of the island’s offering, the Foundation has also produced two documentaries promoting marine conservation, sponsored the procurement of two sea bins which will contribute to cleaner seas in the southern part of the island, and is lending its support to the ongoing excavation of a Phoenician shipwreck.
The Marketing and Communications Department at Malta Airport is responsible for documenting the company’s sustainability efforts in an annual sustainability report.
For more information about Malta International Airport’s economic, social and environmental sustainability efforts visit www.maltairport.com.
               
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