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Pacific Blue Picks Palmerstone North Gas-to-Electricity Project for Carbon Offset Program


New Zealand airline Pacific Blue has announced that the first beneficiary of its carbon offset program is a Palmerston North renewable energy project where landfill methane gas is captured and used to generate electricity.

Pacific Blue was the first airline in New Zealand to offer a carbon offset program, which was officially launched earlier this year as part of an integrated strategy to address greenhouse gas emissions. The program allows travelers to voluntarily offset flights from 50 cents per domestic sector and from $3 per international sector. All monies collected go towards Government approved New Zealand projects to reduce carbon emissions.

Despite only being available for a matter of months, thousands of Pacific Blue travellers have already taken the opportunity to be part of the program. The airline confirmed today that the initial funds collected will help to fund the gas-to-electricity project at the Awapuni landfill site near Palmerston North.

General Manager Commercial, Adrian Hamilton-Manns, said the airline had purchased 1000 verified Emission Reduction Units (ERUs) in relation to the project from a New Zealand carbon trading company, Carbon Market Solutions. The purchase equates to around 1000 tonnes of carbon dioxide abatement.

“We’re proud to support New Zealand-based projects and feel it’s important to encourage this growing sector,” he said. “The Awapuni project has been approved by the Ministry for the Environment’s Projects to Reduce Emissions scheme. Methane gas from the site is captured and converted into electricity, and the electricity is used to power a neighbouring waste water treatment plant.”

Mr Hamilton-Manns said that once the initial abatement purchase had been used up the airline could choose to purchase more units from the Awapuni project or look at similar projects elsewhere in New Zealand.

“We know our Guests who carbon offset their flights will be interested to hear exactly where their money is going,” he said.

When Pacific Blue starts flights within New Zealand in November it will do so using New Generation (NG) 737 aircraft for the first time on domestic routes.

“Our fleet of 737-NG aircraft is the most technologically advanced and efficient ever to fly domestically in New Zealand,” said Adrian Hamilton-Manns. “They have much more efficient engines than the earlier 737 models that New Zealanders are used to flying on domestic routes. The 737-NGs also have winglets which reduce noise, cut carbon emissions and provide further fuel savings.”

Pacific Blue said it will have the youngest fleet in New Zealand and as a result, its carbon footprint will be smaller in comparison with other domestic carriers.

The Virgin Blue Group was this month presented with a Special Merit Award for Commitment to the Environment at the World Low Cost Airline Conference in London. The award recognised the leadership role that the group has taken among airlines on environmental management initiatives.