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Business Air News Bulletin
Business Air News Bulletin
The monthly news publication for aviation professionals.
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Equinox launches Clean Sky Index for sustainable operators
The index allows travel buyers to favour environmentally-friendly aircraft operators when booking flights, and the 4Air relationship provides independent verification of sustainability impacts.
Managing director Elliot Bottomley.
Read this story in our February 2023 printed issue.

UK music specialist charter broker Equinox Charter and sister company Equinox Travel have launched a Clean Sky Index, an initiative that empowers clients to control how their travel impacts the environment.

The performance of operators is judged on two specific criteria: 1) net zero initiatives towards emission mitigation from SAF use to offsetting efforts and future tech investment; and 2) flight operations toward emissions minimisation, including flight procedures, inflight performance and efforts to reduce non-CO2 emissions.

“Beyond carbon offsetting some of our clients, the end users, are unsure how they can support sustainable flying,” says managing director Elliot Bottomley. “The Clean Sky Index provides our clients with current and continually updated information to support their choices. By choosing sustainable operators, those that are making real and accountable efforts, our clients are empowered to make an immediate impact on greener travel.

“Empowering client choice is paramount; not all operators are the same and simple differences between them, including how the aircraft is operated, can make a major difference. Every kilo counts.”

Thanks to a combination of publicly available information and active discussions with operators led by Equinox sustainability consultant Douglas Corbett, the company has found substantial and reliable results for commercial operators. Airlines such as easyJet and Air New Zealand top the commercial assessment through clear mission objectives, use of SAF, investment in future technology and flight ops procedures. However, it seems that business aviation assessments show, in general, that there is some ground yet to cover. The work of companies like VistaJet and Air Charter Scotland in this segment is encouraging and is beginning to set the standards for others to follow.

The Clean Sky Index forms part of a number of sustainable travel assessments useful to travellers and buyers of travel under Equinox’ Enhanced Sustainability Initiative (EESI).

EESI provides clients with Clean Mission Reports, mission-specific sustainability reports that look at factors such as ground operations, loading specifics, route planning and contrail avoidance. They start by showing an operator’s technical pre-flight agreement that serves to assure a client that the most sustainable flight operations will be applied before and during flight, and are aimed at assisting with the issue of accountability, especially for sensitive charters or for publicly accountable passengers.

Music artists form Equinox’s key client base, and some want to tour more sustainably. For example, Coldplay is halving its CO2 tour emissions by supporting green technologies and developing sustainable, low carbon touring methods.

“The public’s expectations for travel and the environment have changed. It wants to see concrete and escalating actions instead of empty promises. At Equinox we understand that every tour is different, that every artist has their perspective on sustainability and that accountability is a constant for public figures. Our approach to this is to listen, research, advise and be flexible with solutions,” says CEO Ian Patterson.

Equinox has partnered with 4Air for a range of offsetting measures, and its framework gives Equinox clients access to comprehensive turnkey programmes that can be applied to individual environmental commitments. The four-tiered rating programmes range from carbon neutral via verified carbon credits to climate champion, where contributions are made directly to an Aviation Climate Fund that funds research and development of technologies needed to make aviation more sustainable. They utilise science-based goals and independently verified results with progressively greater impacts that make it easy for aviation users to pursue sustainability through access to carbon markets, use of SAF, support for new technologies and other strategies.

4Air not only offers turnkey sustainability solutions but, as the only rating system for private aviation emissions reduction, will evaluate and independently verify Equinox clients' sustainability programmes,” says 4Air president Kennedy Ricci. “We also are proud to have the opportunity to work with Equinox and its clients so they can do their part to fight climate change.”

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