Here’s an interview a month back with Guillaume Halleux, cargo boss at Qatar Airways, on air transport, inflation and how this all boils down to innovation and sustainability across aviation and the air cargo industry.
Can you share with us the idea behind WeQare Chapter 3? What were the results of the most recent donation drive?
The idea behind Chapter 3 “Let’s Stand Together” came to me when I was on a trip to Africa with my family and visited an orphanage. We were humbled by the visit and, considering the role of Qatar Airways Cargo in air freight, we decided to launch the donation drive and involve our employees across the group and our customers worldwide to contribute and be part of this vision. The donations came in swiftly and I am truly thankful and humbled by the support that has been pouring in by our staff and partners worldwide. Donations were received from over 50 cities around the world and 250 staff from our teams helped sort them before distribution. In total, nearly 300 boxes and crates of donations were received and distributed.
In a highly fragmented industry, how do you engage stakeholders across the supply chain to adopt sustainable initiatives and promote to their partners? How would you describe the awareness of stakeholders when it comes to sustainability across the Hamad airport community?
As one of the leading global carriers, we see it as our duty to lead the way in sustainability and set the path for our partners and customers to follow. HIA continues to include sustainability in its growth strategy by implementing various measures to reduce waste, greenhouse gas emissions, and noise pollution. Since 2014, HIA has showcased its commitment to environmental sustainability by pledging to improve carbon efficiency per traffic unit to 30% by 2030. The airport has since observed a steady downward trend in overall CO2 emissions and has been certified at Level 3 by the Airport Council International’s Airport Carbon Accreditation programme. HIA’s sustainability measures also extend to wastewater management. Most of the water used at the airport is directed to HIA’s dedicated wastewater treatment plant, which returns the treated water for irrigating HIA’s landscape features. In 2018, HIA’s treatment plant was successful in recovering 93% of wastewater for reuse.
Upon completion of the airport expansion project, the terminal expansion will make HIA the first airport in the MENA region to achieve a 4-star Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS) rating, a performance-based system for rating green buildings and infrastructures. The terminal will also be a LEED Silver-certified building with innovative energy efficiency measures incorporated throughout the entire premises. At the cargo hub as well, several initiatives are in place, such as waste recycling, reusing spreaders and wooden planks. The majority of forklifts operating in the cargo terminal are electric and tractors which contribute to reducing CO2 emissions and capturing electronic transmission of data. In 2021, the total recycling waste achieved was 62% and total waste reused during the financial period was 15%. Working collaboratively with stakeholders, we managed to go down to 0% waste to landfill in December 2021. Qatar’s airport continually reviews its systems to identify areas of improvement for long-term efficiency and sustainability.
Environmental sustainability and decarbonisation in particular are central to Qatar Airways Cargo’s corporate strategy. In November 2021, we became the first cargo airline to join the IATA CO2NNECT platform and have been working on developing a fully integrated carbon offsetting solution for its customers.
Based on your customer conversations, what do you think are the factors that are driving them to adopt more sustainable practices?
I think sustainability and corporate social responsibility are hot topics and are no longer viewed as a “nice to have” but as a “must”. This is also due to the fact that governments are taking strong measures to slow the impact of climate change. Awareness of climate change and the impact of bad practices on the environment and the planet is leading many companies to adopt sustainable practices. Supply chains account for a large proportion of CO2 emissions and greenhouse gas. It is therefore all the more important that everyone involved in the supply chain industry takes sustainability seriously, as it is also key for the survival of their business.
For airlines and companies that are still reeling from recovery, does the cost justify the end results of sustainable initiatives? What are the ways that companies can go green without hurting the budget?
Digitalisation and supply chain technology innovations are high on our agenda. They make it easier for companies to go green and optimise efficiency at every step of the journey. The investment is high, but the long-term benefits are innumerable as it helps mitigate the effects of manufacturing and shipping on the environment. It is also important for the long-term health and survival of the company. However, companies with a limited budget can definitely start small with the three Rs: reduce, reuse and recycle. Other ways include energy-efficient upgrades and making use of second hand finds like second hand furniture or buying recycled furniture.
Carbon offsetting has also become public and is one of the ways for companies to go green, by making up for the emission of CO2 through funding of carbon offset projects that remove greenhouse gas from the atmosphere, such as planting trees.
We’re now seeing inflated oil prices as an effect of geopolitical situations. Do you see this as a catalyst for aviation to really push the adoption and scale up the production of sustainable aviation fuel, or hydrogen, for that matter? Will we see it happen earlier than expected?
Aviation was recovering from the pandemic and then we witnessed rising oil prices given the current geopolitical situation. The re-routings and air restrictions have increased fuel prices and ticket fares. Countries were already looking at green fuels and hydrogen, however, the situation has accelerated the demand. I think we will see this happen earlier than expected as it is key to reduce emissions and also given that climate change is top on the agenda for world governments and industries.
What’s the next agenda for WeQare?
WeQare, our sustainability programme, revolves around the core pillars of Sustainability: economy, environment, society and culture. Next on the agenda for WeQare is Chapter 4, details will be revealed once we are closer to finalising this chapter, so stay tuned for an exciting new chapter.