Airport Show
13 - 15 May 2025

Held under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Chairman of Dubai Airports, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline and Group

Sustainability will be key for Ground Support in the coming Decade

“Aviation is the business of freedom. For 4.6 billion travellers it is their freedom to explore, build business, or reunite with friends and family. The economic benefit of this is 65 million jobs and a $2.7 trillion boost to the global economy. Aviation is growing responsibly to meet this demand. From 2020, for example, the industry will achieve carbon-neutral growth. And that is on the way to the much more ambitious goal of cutting emissions to half 2005 levels by 2050.” – Alexandre de Juniac, Director General and CEO, IATA


The new decade is one that is already being characterised as a period of sustained growth for the aviation industry, with IATA predicting that 2019 saw a global hike in demand of 5%, with capacity growth of 4.7% and passenger load factors increasing by 82.1%.

For airlines and airport operators, this scenario presents all the obvious benefits traditionally associated with rising consumer demand, but with the proviso of adding to their already significant challenge of conducting daily operators in a secure, safe and ultimately sustainable manner. 2020 has been designated as the year when the industry caps its carbon emissions in preparation for a three-decade-long effort to halve overall CO2 emission levels. The beginning of 2019 saw ICAO lay down a raft of new global guidelines and standards necessary to improve the environmental sustainability of the industry, and there’s doubtless more regulation in this area to follow in the new decade.

While the improvement of aircraft engines and use of sustainable fuel alternatives will be crucial in this long fight, ground support has an equally vital role to play.


Achieving more efficient ground operations

Reduction of fuel usage, plastic waste, water waste and a myriad of other measures of long-term sustainability can be improved on the ground as well as in the air. Through measures such as carbon offsetting zero-waste efforts and a growing range of operations efficiency solutions such as single-engine taxiing, ground operations teams can help cut back on the ecological impact of the airlines and airports they serve.

Exemplar: China Airlines

In 2017 as part of its ‘Green Flight’ initiative, China Airlines teamed up with IATA to institute a cross-department fuel usage management task force dedicated to implementing 27 separate fuel-saving measures in the airline’s operations, which included sustainability improvements in its aircraft maintenance, flight planning and ground operations process control. Outcomes include the minimising of unnecessary fuel burn in aircraft taxiing, improved engine maintenance and monitoring, and optimised APU operations.

These improvements, among others, led to China Airlines being rated among the top 15% of the world’s most sustainable airlines in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) in 2018, reaching Sustainability Yearbook Member status.


Going green is the future of the industry

The aviation industry knows that it needs to shift up a gear in its sustainability efforts. With the industry producing 3% of all global emissions, and reactional air travel making up 10% of climate change caused by humans, the spotlight of eco-friendly change has shone increasingly brightly on airlines and the airports that support them. With the industry now looking to cut carbon wherever it can, expect to see a greater level of change within ground operations as well as the daily management of the flights themselves.


This article was created in association with Global Airport Leaders’ Forum (GALF) taking place alongside Airport Show on 24-26 May 2021.

Day 1 (24 October) of GALF will feature the NEW Future Ground Handling Summit. Read more here.