IEMA's Digital Journalist Tom Pashby speaks with experts about EasyJet's plans to become a net zero business by 2050 and how they plan to do this.

EasyJet has announced their commitment to achieving a net zero business by 2050 using a variety of mitigation measures including sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

The airline said it would be investing $21 billion in more fuel efficient and quieter conventional aircraft, replacing older planes with 168 Airbus NEO models. It also said it would be investing in optimising flight descents to save fuel, hydrogen-powered aircraft, and carbon removal technology.

In a statement, airlines chief executive, Johan Lundgren, said:

“We’re the first airline to outline an ambitious road map in which zero carbon emission technology plays a key role to take us to net zero emissions by 2050 and ultimately to zero carbon emission flying across our entire fleet.

“Decarbonising aviation is a major undertaking for which the whole sector is coming together, but we also require the support from UK and European governments to help us achieve net zero and we have clearly outlined the actions needed from them.”

EasyJet said it would be using SAF until zero emission aircraft are available at commercial scale and that it had signed a contract for SAF usage with a Kuwait based firm called Q8Aviation.

Reacting to the news, Christian Simons GradIEMA, Product Eco-design Engineer at Thales, said:

“Easyjet’s recent net zero announcement gives me hope that the leading ideas in aviation are gaining traction, backed by investments and business agreements.

“However, I am also aware of its challenges. For instance, sustainable aviation fuel can only reduce emissions during fuel manufacture and how will SAF be transported to the UK from Kuwait?

“Hydrogen-powered planes shows promise and technological precedent, but for me it is a mid to long term solution that requires further development.

“Despite this, I believe it is a step in the right direction as the aviation industry grows around the world.”

Magdalena Golebiewska PIEMA, sustainability manager at EasyJet, said:

“Our ultimate ambition is to achieve zero carbon emission flying, with hydrogen showing the most potential for a short-haul airline like ours to fully decarbonise.

“Hydrogen, in the form of fuel cells or combustion, does not release any carbon while SAF still emits carbon during the flight.

“For us as short-haul airline, we believe SAF will be an interim fuel and we will use SAF as required, bringing emissions down in the meantime, until we transition to carbon-free flying.”

When asked for her thoughts on attempts to decarbonise the aviation sector, Cathy Davis, head of strategy – sustainability and simulation at BAE Systems (an IEMA corporate partner), said:

“BAE Systems has set an ambitious net zero target to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions across our operations by 2030 and across our supply chain by 2050. We are working with our customers, suppliers, SMEs, educational and research institutions, to develop innovative solutions to reduce emissions from our own operations, our supply chain and the equipment we deliver.

“We are also driving the development of sustainable solutions to meet evolving customer requirements in the defence and commercial sector for increased use of synthetics, electrification and other non-polluting energy sources, at both a platform and systems level.”

EasyJet said it is working with Rolls Royce – another IEMA corporate partner – on final preparations for the first ground tests of a hydrogen-powered jet plane, and had signed a letter of intent with Airbus to support the development of direct air capture carbon removal technology.


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