Southwest Airlines’ sustainability strategy, ‘Nonstop to Net Zero,’ encompasses various initiatives and goals aimed at achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The airline is focusing on three key pillars: carbon emissions reduction, waste reduction, and collaboration. Here are the key areas of focus and achievements outlined in the strategy:
Electrification of Ground Support Equipment (GSE):
- Goal: Southwest aims to electrify 50 percent of eligible ground support equipment system-wide by 2030.
- Progress: The airline has already achieved the electrification of 33 percent of the ground support equipment.
- Collaboration: Southwest plans to collaborate with airports to evaluate electric infrastructure to support further expansion.
Jet Fuel Efficiency:
- Goal: The airline aims to save 50 million incremental gallons of jet fuel by 2025 and a total of 1.1 billion gallons by 2035.
- Progress: Southwest saved approximately 33 million gallons of traditional jet fuel last year through fuel efficiency initiatives.
- Initiatives: The airline plans to implement fresh fuel savings initiatives, including enhancements to flight planning software, expected to save at least 145,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions annually.
Single-Use Plastics Reduction:
- Goal: Southwest pledges to reduce single-use plastics from inflight service by half by 2025 and eliminate single-use plastics wherever feasible by 2030.
- Focus Areas: Southwest is enhancing its recycling efforts by targeting five key areas.
- Partnerships: The airline is partnering with suppliers to improve environmental stewardship efforts.
Sustainability Achievements in 2023:
- SAF Agreement: In October 2023, Southwest signed a 20-year agreement to purchase up to 680 million gallons of neat Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) from USA BioEnergy, LLC.
- Corporate Customer Tool: In August 2023, Southwest launched a tool allowing eligible corporate customers to purchase Scope 3 SAF claims and/or carbon offsets directly.
- Research Collaborations: Southwest collaborated with General Electric (GE) Research on a Department of Energy-funded grant and with NASA, Boeing, and other U.S. airlines on the Sustainable Flight Demonstrator project and the X-66 research aircraft.
- Recognition: The airline received recognition in sustainability leadership at the D CEO Magazine’s ‘2023 Nonprofit & Corporate Citizenship Awards’ and the 2023 ‘Sustainability, Environmental Achievement, and Leadership (SEAL) Business Awards.’
These efforts align with Southwest’s broader sustainability strategy, which includes goals such as achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, reducing carbon emissions intensity by 50 percent by 2035, and increasing the use of sustainable aviation fuel. Southwest emphasizes collaboration with stakeholders, including suppliers, governments, and other organizations, to address the environmental impact of aviation.