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Virgin Blue Goes Green: Virgin Blue Launches Carbon Offset Program

21/03/2007

Virgin Blue has today become the first airline in Australia to have a comprehensive and certified carbon offset program that forms part of its integrated strategy to address environmental impact issues, including greenhouse gas emissions.


The program, which has been certified by the Australian Government under the Australian Greenhouse Office’s Greenhouse Friendly™ initiative, provides the airline and its Guests with the opportunity to neutralise emissions.


From today, Guests on Virgin Blue can offset their flights for as little as $1. Monies collected via the optional carbon offset program will be used to purchase abatement from projects in Australia and New Zealand.


The Hon. Malcolm Turnbull MP, Minister for the Environment, joined Virgin Blue Chief Executive, Brett Godfrey and Howard Bamsey, Deputy Secretary of the Department of the Environment and Water Resources, to launch the program in Canberra today.


Virgin Blue Chief Executive, Brett Godfrey said, “As an airline company, we are well aware of the challenge to balance the demand and growth of air travel while at the same time actively working to reduce aircraft emissions. The introduction of this program is a significant step in the right direction and one we hope other airlines will follow.”


“We see our Carbon Offset Program as a step towards creating a sustainable aviation environment. This is a global issue requiring a global response and we believe all airlines around the world, not just in Australia, need to view it as a shared responsibility and act swiftly and today’s announcement shows that we are very keen to play our role in this.”


“The introduction of this program is in response to the enquiries from our Guests, corporate clients and encouragement from our own team members”, Brett Godfrey said.


Offsetting flights on Virgin Blue will occur by purchasing abatement from the Australian Greenhouse Office Approved Greenhouse Friendly™ Abatement Projects. While offsetting on Pacific Blue or Polynesian Blue flights, will occur by purchasing abatement from Gold Standard projects in New Zealand that are endorsed by the New Zealand Government.


The Virgin Blue Carbon offset program involves two key elements.


Guests who travel on Virgin Blue flights will have the option of voluntarily offsetting their share of carbon emissions generated from the flight. They will be offered the opportunity during the flight booking process to contribute towards Australian Greenhouse Office approved abatement projects including such initiatives as forestry activities, energy efficiency measures, waste diversion and recycling and generation of renewable energy; and

Virgin Blue, with the enthusiastic support of its management and Board, has made a financial commitment to offset the greenhouse impacts of its own crew and staff travelling on company business. This financial commitment, expected to be in the vicinity of AUD $500,000 annually, will then be channelled into abatement projects aimed at long term and permanent greenhouse gas reductions.

Virgin Blue’s team had been investigating the potential for the airline to become involved in the Greenhouse FriendlyTM program since March last year and is proud to be the first Australian airline and first transportation organisation in the country to be officially certified as “Greenhouse Friendly”.


Virgin Blue also announced it has signed up for the Australian Greenhouse Challenge Plus Program, joining nearly 800 other companies committed to improving energy efficiencies and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Virgin Blue will measure, monitor and report on its overall emissions as it aims to reduce them year on year.


Brett Godfrey added, “The Australian Government Greenhouse Friendly initiative and the Greenhouse Challenge Plus Programme are further steps in our overall environmental plan. We already operate a fleet of the latest 737 NG aircraft and have implemented strategies to reduce fuel burn via more efficient flight planning and aircraft weight reduction. We also participate in recycling activities from computers to Christmas cards and will continue to work with other agencies to help further protect the environment.”