By Benjamin Pham
How JetBlue Is Tackling Climate Change
The aviation industry within itself is a major source of air pollution, emitting high amounts of carbon emissions and utilizing immense amounts of fossil fuels to power aircraft on short-haul and long-haul routes.
Over the course of this summer, several major airlines have experienced a surge in passenger traffic as stringent Covid-19 entry restrictions loosen and lengthly border closures reopen in time for the summer holiday travel season. As a result, the push towards sustainability aviation fuels and a goal for net-zero carbon emissions remain at large.
JetBlue is taking some of its earliest steps toward more sustainable operations, this week announcing the launch of a partnership with Joby Aviation — a transportation company specializing in the development of all-electric aircraft.
The Long Island City, N.Y.-based carrier plans to work with Joby Aviation to operate flights using electric and hydrogen propulsion technologies. In addition, within the new partnership, the carrier intends to participate in establishing carbon credits through propulsion technologies, which Joby Aviation is currently developing for reducing carbon emissions in commercial passenger service compared to traditional fueling methods.
“This partnership allows JetBlue to not only continue to fulfill our domestic carbon neutrality commitment but also evolve the type of offsets we purchase and help support the development of electric and hydrogen aviation, which are critical levers for meeting the U.S. aviation industry’s net-zero goals,” Sara Bogdan, JetBlue’s Head of Sustainability and Environmental Social Governance, said in a statement.
In the partnership, while JetBlue attempt to incorporate sustainable operations and fly more eco-friendly aircraft on its routes. Furthermore, Joby Aviation will plan to work alongside Signature Flight Support to reinforce the industry’s ongoing transition from traditional fuel to greener alternatives.
“With JetBlue and Signature, we’re opening up an entirely new path for the aviation industry to more quickly move to sustainable energy sources,” JoeBen Bevirt, Founder and CEO of Joby Aviation, said in a statement. “We invite additional partners to join us and hope these agreements will be the first of many that today’s air travel to the clean future of flight.”
While other possible ways to power aircraft are being researched and explored, JetBlue, like several other major airlines, is shifting towards sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs). Earlier this week, the airline expanded its involvement with SAF by entering a new agreement with World Energy and World Fuel Services at Los Angeles International Airport.
The carrier will increase its SAF usage for flights out of LAX to 1.5 million gallons each year for three years. Jetblue’s decision to use more economical and eco-friendly resources to power its aircraft plays a pivotal role in its operations at LAX, especially as the airline made the airport its primary focus city on the west coast last year.
“JetBlue is facing climate change head-on and preparing our business for a new climate reality. Sustainable aviation fuel is one of the most promising ways to rapidly reduce air travel emissions and help our industry move toward our net-zero goals. We are focused on growing our use of sustainable aviation fuel to replace conventional fossil-based jet fuel in our focus cities as it becomes available,” Bogdan added, a philosophy suggesting that the airline will aim at operating fuel-efficient and cost-effective flights across its growing route network.
Further research is currently ongoing and continues to evolve as technology advances. However, while the greener alternatives to fossil fuels help reduce carbon emissions and pollution, JetBlue and other airlines continue to face the difficult question of how much they can afford to invest now as the industry continues operating below full health.