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Friday, May 20, 2022

IndiGo Makes Progress On More Sustainable Operations


In a first for any Indian airline, low-cost giant IndiGo is publicly discussing its carbon footprint and plans to reduce its impact in the future. Data from the report shows that the airline has made impressive strides towards reducing its CO2 emissions both before and after the pandemic.

Between fiscal years 2015 and 2021, IndiGo’s total carbon emissions fell by 1.47 million tonnes. This is an impressive decrease for any airline and especially for one that is rapidly increasing every year. The numbers have been steadily falling since 2017 and are projected to increase in pace. However, the carrier isn’t planning to stop here.

IndiGo 1,000th A320neo Family Aircraft
IndiGo’s modern A320neo and A321neo fleet has been central to the falling CO2 emissions and will continue to do so. Photo: Airbus

By the fiscal year 2023, IndiGo plans to reduce emissions by 18% compared to FY16, representing a higher pace of reduction. CO2 emissions per available seat kilometers (ASKs) have fallen steadily too, from 0.0746 in FY16 to a projected 0.0606 by FY23. This comes despite the increasing number of seats every year.

Four pillars

IndiGo credits its reducing environmental impact on four pillars. The most significant one is technology enhancement, which includes a rapid fleet modernization and new fuel usage software to decrease burn. These are undoubtedly key to any improvement in emissions, especially given how efficient newer aircraft have become.

IndiGo is Airbus’ biggest customer for A320neo family and has added over 160 jets since 2016, coinciding with the fall in emissions per ASK. The A320neo offers 15% less fuel burn and 20% less CO2 emissions compared to the ‘ceo’ variant, helping to reduce environmental impact in all operations.

INdigo A320neo
Once IndiGo becomes an all-A320neo airline in FY23, its emissions could continue falling. Photo: Airbus

The pandemic has actually helped ESG at IndiGo, particularly by pushing the airline to retire all of its A320ceos in favor of the newer generation. This will be done by 2023, ahead of schedule, and helping the airline in its sustainability goals.

There are three more pillars the airline has relied on in the last few years. Operational enhancements such as single-engine taxiing, reducing aircraft weight, and much more. The government has also contributed through infrastructural changes, particularly by helping in airspace management and allowing airlines to take the most efficient route.

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IndiGo also mentions an upcoming pillar of its ESG plan: sustainable aviation fuels (SAF). While several European and US airlines have been testing SAF, India hasn’t been too keen on adding costs. However, to continue to control its environmental impact, IndiGo might have to consider moving away from traditional fossil fuels for operations.

IndiGo Airbus A320neo
While SAF can be expensive, it can use traditional infrastructure and is accepted by aircraft easily. Photo: Getty Images

According to Business Standard, IndiGo’s latest ESG report also comes at a time when it is attracting international investment to its fundraising efforts. With ‘impact funds’ on the rise globally, IndiGo’s moves set it apart from other Indian airlines and could help it grow further.

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