May 11, 2022 | By Bronwen Largier

In good news for sustainably-minded international business events visitors to Australia, UAE-based airline Etihad, which flies daily to Melbourne and Sydney, is introducing new tableware and cutlery into its economy cabins which reduce waste and significantly reduce single-use plastics from meal trays.

The new reusable tableware is made from recycled high quality plastic which at the end of its initial lifecycle is ground and reused to make its own replacements. In addition, economy class cutlery will become stainless steel.

The airline has committed to remove 80 per cent of single-use plastics from its operations by the end of this year.

Other upgrades to the Economy experience include a larger pillow, made locally in the UAE and a new blanket made from recycled plastic.

The airline is also moving towards more locally produced items to further reduce its environmental impact.

“Our commitment to sustainability doesn’t come at a compromise to the quality and thoughtfulness behind Etihad’s guest experience, and these innovative new products will further improve our offering,” said Etihad’s executive director of guest experience, brand and marketing, Terry Daly.

“We look forward to rolling out this new experience across the fleet towards the latter part of the year.”

The new products will debut onboard aircraft in the last quarter of this year.

Etihad has also been conducting intensive sustainable flight testing recently, looking at ways to increase operational efficiencies and reduce carbon emissions. Results of the 42 test flights taken over five days have provided data for ways both CO2 emissions and flight times can be reduced in the long term.

For long-haul destinations like Australia, with the time commitment and environmental impact of aviation likely to become part of the consideration process for attendance at international events, these moves by Etihad could help get delegates over the line to attend events in Australia in person.