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Today in aviation: Virgin Australia signs sustainability MoU; more flights between China and New Zealand

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Virgin Australia signs sustainability MoU
Virgin Australia has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Boeing, to help the aviation industry reach its carbon targets, while China Southern is set to increase flights between the world’s most populous country and multiple New Zealand cities.

Virgin Australia and Boeing to collaborate on decarbonisation and equality and inclusion goals

Australia’s second largest airline has signed an MoU with one of the world’s major aircraft manufacturers to advance carbon reduction and carbon offsetting in aviation, progress clean energy supply chains and advance opportunities for Australia’s First Nations people, women and people with disabilities in aviation through their employment and workplace practices.

Virgin Australia and Boeing will join forces to advocate for a local sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) industry in Australia, with SAF able to significantly reduce aircraft emissions over its lifecycle in comparison to traditional jet fuel. While Australia will soon have its first SAF refinery – driven in part by a collaborative fund between Qantas and Airbus – SAF cannot currently be made at any kind of scale in Australia, despite being identified as a key tool in the decarbonisation of commercial flying.  

The airline-manufacturer partnership will also look to promote Australian carbon offset projects.

“This is the first sustainability-focused MoU between our companies and we are delighted to partner with Boeing. This MoU, which combines our deep expertise in Australia’s commercial aviation industry with Boeing’s global knowledge and insights, will help to drive and amplify change,” said Christian Bennett, Virgin Australia’s chief corporate affairs and sustainability officer.

“This is one example of Virgin Australia’s commitment to build a sustainable business, one that will be here for the benefit of future generations of Australian travellers to come.

“We know this will not happen overnight, but we are committed to accelerating our effort in a responsible and credible fashion. High-quality partnerships like this MoU with Boeing will be an important enabler of that acceleration.”

China Southern to increase China-New Zealand air connections

China Southern Airlines will reinstate commercial flights between Guangzhou and Christchurch, the South Island’s largest city, as well as adding three new services between Guangzhou and Auckland.

Guangzhou has a population of over 18.6 million – more than three times the size of New Zealand. China was New Zealand’s second largest visitor market pre-pandemic and the new flights will add around 7,000 airline seats each month.

“China remains an important tourist market to New Zealand, with borders open, tourists returning to our shores, and today’s announcement will make visiting from China even easier, and help drive our economic recovery,” said New Zealand’s Prime Minister Chris Hipkins.

“These additional routes add to the direct air connections between our two countries, which are expected to grow to at least 80 per cent of pre-COVID levels by September 2023.

“We’re actively working to attract visitors globally, including from China, that match our tourism objectives and who will positively contribute to New Zealand’s economy recovery.”

New Zealand’s tourism minister Peeni Henare said the Christchurch services would give the South Island a major boost.

“The new direct services to Christchurch will particularly support South Island visitation and support ongoing tourism sector recovery. This is great news for the hundred thousand Kiwis directly employed in tourism and their communities around Aotearoa New Zealand who rely on the industry for local jobs and economic growth,” said Henare.

“Continuing to increase air connectivity is vital to our economic growth, especially in the China market as capacity improvements have positive run on effects by supporting international education and essential trade.”

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