We Smell Change in the Air

Why do we accept flying on airplanes as completely unsustainable experiences?

At the Cayuga Collection, we are considered world leaders in sustainable hospitality.  Our strong ethos guides each and every one of our actions, and we’re always on the lookout for ways to be even more sustainable.  Over the last 15 years however, we’ve been focusing entirely on hotel and lodge operations rather than the wider travel situation.  Despite being closely linked to what we do, we have never really thought about the topic of sustainability in the airline industry.

When we board a plane, the majority of us just accept that we’re in for a completely unsustainable experience.  We’ll fly from one side of the world to the next without giving too much thought to the vast quantities of greenhouse gases being pumped into the atmosphere, or the mountains of single-use plastic trash accumulated over a flight.  Airports themselves are just as bad.  But, it looks as though a shift is happening.

When we received our WTTC Tourism for Tomorrow People Award, we were thrilled to see that two fellow award winners have been working hard to bring sustainability to the airline industry.  Those are Hong Kong International Airport and Virgin Atlantic.

Winner of the Environment AwardHong Kong International Airport has been on a mission since 2012 to become the world’s greenest airport.  They’ve successfully developed a unique collaborative and airport-wide approach, addressing issues from carbon reduction to food waste.  In just three years, the airport achieved an impressive 25.6% reduction in the overall carbon intensity of its operations, while also saving enough food from going to waste to provide 100,000 meals for the underprivileged.

The airline industry is largely criticized for being unsustainable, however change is coming soon.

As for Virgin Atlantic, winner of the Innovation Award, they’ve partnered with the Sustainable Restaurant Association to create the world’s first framework designed to address the many sustainability challenges of inflight catering.  Through the partnership, Virgin has been working with its 14 global catering companies on issues from Fair Farming and Sustainable Seafood, to Deforestation and Waste, and other airlines are already following suit.

At Cayuga we’re inspired to see the first steps taken to shake up an area of the travel industry that has until recently seen itself exempt from matters of sustainability.  It seems change is in the air, and if there’s anyone who can make sustainability sexy, it’s Virgin Atlantic.  We only hope that they’ll someday add destinations in Central America to their routes so that our guests can enjoy an entirely eco-experience from start to finish.

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Hans Pfister

Co-owner & President