Sustainable travel and flying: how do we reconcile the two?

It’s July and the summer holidays are kicking off. You’ve probably already seen the first friends set off for the sun or an exotic destination. Travelling gives you memories you keep for life. You relax and find new energy. It changes you. It changes me. Everyone around me knows I love to discover the world for myself. They also know I want to contribute to a sustainable world. As a Sustainability Manager at KLM, I try to combine these two passions.

To fly or not to fly?

It’s a much-discussed dilemma. We want to experience the stunning diversity of nature and culture around the world. And we want to visit friends, family and professional relations. But at the same time, we want to limit the impact we have on the planet. Flying – which is definitely the quickest and often most comfortable way to travel – also has a downside. It takes a lot of fossil fuel to fly from A to B and the carbon emissions are substantial.

The challenge for us as a society – and KLM – is how to do this more sustainably, now and in the future. We are looking for alternatives to fossil fuels, but there are also other means of transport that have less impact on the environment.

The Future is Sustainable

At KLM, we have been working for years to reduce our environmental impact by using sustainably produced biofuels wherever possible, by recycling, we offer our employees the opportunity to develop themselves, and by supporting social goals. We work on diversity, serve food made from responsibly produced ingredients, and buy new energy-efficient aircraft. We work continuously to improve and we regularly evaluate our progress.

However, we need to speed things up is clear from the rate of climate change and loss of biodiversity. The whole world needs to move a lot faster if travel, food, and energy are to be accessible to future generations. This is why KLM is calling upon everyone to work together on a sustainable future. With Fly Responsibly, we invite others in our sector, but also from elsewhere, to take part and share knowledge. We don’t have all the answers either, but we are stronger together and better able to have a positive impact on sustainability. And this is vital!

Small steps, huge impacts

Sustainability is not something you should compete on. We are going to take the lessons we have learned over the last few years and share them with other interested airlines. We are going to organize online seminars – ‘webinars’ – and panel discussions to explore all the available ways to make progress. But we are also going to invite our customers to think about travel. We all have that responsibility. We explain that CO2 compensation is a way to reduce your carbon footprint. But we also ask you if you can take an alternative mode of transport for short distances, such as the train? Could you take a video call instead of physically going to a meeting?

We will no doubt want to carry on traveling in the century to come, and I too want to discover amazing places around the world for myself. This is why I’m pleased to be able to take part in making flying sustainable at KLM. Will you join me?

KLM Fly Responsibly