Paving The Way: A Look At Pegasus Airlines’ Sustainability Efforts

Turkish carrier Pegasus Airlines has 30 years of history behind it. During this time, it has established itself as a key low-cost operator, offering useful connections between Europe and Asia via Istanbul. Looking towards the next 30 years of its existence, the airline recognizes its social responsibilities as far as aspects like sustainability are concerned.

Pegasus Airlines is aiming to reach net-zero carbon emissions. Photo: Getty Images

As such, it has several strategies in place to help it pave the way in this domain. Simple Flying recently learned about these during an interview with Pegasus CCO Güliz Öztürk.

Net-zero: the ultimate goal

Across the airline industry, 2050 is being viewed as a key date in terms of wider progress regarding the reduction of carbon emissions. Many airlines, airports, and alliances have set a collective target to have reached net-zero carbon emissions by this stage.

As it happens, Pegasus Airlines recently added itself to the list. The Turkish low-cost carrier considers climate change to be a key topic. Subsequently, it “[manages] all [its] operations and activities under a ‘sustainable environmentapproach.” Öztürk explains that:

In October 2021, at IATA’s 77th Annual General Meeting, we joined the world’s leading airlines to pledge to achieve ‘Net Zero Carbon Emissions by 2050.’

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Interim targets to keep Pegasus on track

With 2050 being so far away, and reaching net-zero carbon emissions being such an ambitious goal, you might wonder how airlines plan on achieving this aim. In the case of Pegasus, the Istanbul-based budget operator plans to keep itself on track by adhering to interim targets over the next 29 years. The first of these is fast approaching. Öztürk states:

In December 2021, we set our 2030 interim target for carbon emissions: to reduce our flight-related carbon (CO2) emissions per unit passenger kilometer (RPK) by 20% by 2030 compared to 2019 levels. We are restructuring all our operations and activities in line with this goal.”

Fleet modernization will play a key role

One aspect of Pegasus Airlines’ operations that has come under consideration in terms of restructuring to meet its interim emissions target is its fleet. Simple Flying took an in-depth look at the Turkish low-cost carrier’s fleet plans earlier this week, with the main headline being that it will soon only operate Airbus jets. In terms of sustainability, Öztürk states that:

Within the framework of our fleet strategy, we foresee that we will reduce our emissions by increasing the number of our more fuel-efficient Airbus A320neo model aircraft.”

Pegasus Airlines presently operates 44 standard A320neos and eight stretched-fuselage A321neos. However, it has more than 50 examples of the latter still on order. The A320neo family will help Pegasus become more sustainable, with Öztürk adding that it will:

“… [bring] in a new era for more eco-friendly travel by reducing fuel per seat-mile costs by 15% compared to its counterparts, and reducing emissions and providing more quiet travel, thus allowing us to take steps in a greener direction.”

Carbon offsetting since 2015

In recent years, carbon offsetting has also become a more important topic for planet conscious passengers that want to negate the impact of their travels. Tracking carbon emissions is something that Pegasus has done since 2015. As of October this year, it has also begun disclosing its carbon footprint to investors every month. Öztürk explains:

We have been providing reports to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) since 2015, and have been awarded at least a B grade since the beginning. In 2020, we received an A-, which was the highest score awarded to a Turkey-based airline to date.”

Future carbon offset work

Moving forward, the airline plans to offset all of its scheduled flights for the next few years. However, before it can do this, it needs ICAO “to announce the sectoral growth factor” that will allow Pegasus to calculate how much carbon it needs to offset. Öztürk adds that:

Once this is announced, we will decide which offsetting project options to take, such as wind turbines, energy generation from biogas, and solar solutions. Not all offset investment options are accepted by the authorities. Therefore, we will make our selection based on the framework outlined by ICAO Corsia offsetting requirements.”

Pegasus Airlines is also considering how to garner greater engagement from passengers when it comes to carbon offsetting. After all, the ability to offset journeys may become more of a pull factor for passengers amid the climate crisis. Öztürk told Simple Flying:

One of our near-term projects includes giving our guests the option to select the offsetting projects of their choice for their flights. Initially, we will begin with our corporate offsetting projects, then gradually extend this to include our guests.”

Longer-term goals

Of course, carbon offsetting isn’t the only way in which airlines can try to carve out a more sustainable future. In the coming years, companies worldwide are looking to catalyze developments in the field of alternative fuels and propulsion systems. With this in mind, Pegasus Airlines is keeping an eye on new developments. Indeed, Öztürk confirmed that:

In the long term, our sustainability efforts will focus on the use of SAFs, new technology aircraft, and carbon capture technologies.”

On the whole, it was eye-opening to hear about the various timescales for Pegasus Airlines’ sustainability projects. It is clear that, while the Turkish low-cost carrier is eyeing fleet and network growth, it will endeavor to do so sustainably. It will certainly be interesting to see how it gets along in terms of meeting its various admirable emissions targets.

What do you make of Pegasus Airlines’ sustainability efforts? Have you ever flown with the Turkish low-cost carrier? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!

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