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Thursday 17 September 2009: Virgin Blue Airlines today joined with internationally acclaimed scientist, conservationist, author and Chairman of Copenhagen Climate Council, Professor Tim Flannery, to honour the purchaser of the airline’s one millionth seat to have its carbon emissions offset since the launch of Virgin Blue’s Carbon Offset Program in 2007.

Virgin Blue was the first airline in the world to have a Government-certified Carbon Offset Program. Adhering to the high standards required to be certified under the Australian Government’s Greenhouse Friendly Program has contributed to the success of the program and to Guest confidence in choosing to offset their flights with the airline.

While the one millionth offset seat sector was flown late July, the presentation to Ms Helen Townley was held over until today so that Ms Townley could have the honour of receiving acknowledgement in person from Australia’s most eminent environmentalist. Professor Flannery donated his time as a means of helping Virgin Blue encourage all air travellers to offset the emissions of the flights.

“I believe it's important for people to address climate changes through the everyday decisions - to take individual responsibility for minimising our impacts on the environment - because that's the only way we'll get a committed constituency for greater political action,” Professor Flannery said.

“For many of us in the world today, no matter how much we genuinely care about this issue, air travel is something we cannot avoid as part of our working lives. All it takes is ticking a box and spending an extra dollar or two to offset the emissions relating to your flight. That is why I have agreed to take the time today to personally thank Ms Townley for being an example to us all. It is the smallest things we do that can have the greatest cumulative effect.”

Hobart resident, Ms Townley, was presented with a memento recognising her care for the environment by choosing to offset her flights and also with an environmentally friendly holiday in Far North Queensland, thanks to Blue Holidays, Ocean Hotels & Tourism; Jungle Surfing; Masons Tours, Cape Tribulation; Sunlover Reef Cruises and Europcar Car Hire (emissions offset).

Virgin Blue Chief Executive Officer, Brett Godfrey said: “As an airline group, we have made a commitment to minimise our environmental impacts and work towards a sustainable future for the airline industry and we are pleased to take this opportunity to thank Ms Townley and every one of our Guests who choose to also take responsibility for their impacts on the environment. As far as we know, this is the first time any airline offset program has reached such a significant milestone but I personally would be happier if we had hit the 10 million seat mark rather than one million; even though this is still a very positive sign. It shows more and more people are taking action on a personal level to help minimise greenhouse gas emissions.”

Mr Godfrey said this increased awareness is a welcome outcome for the environment. Since its inception, about 10% of all Guests have chosen to offset the carbon emissions relating to their flights.

“We have long acknowledged the need to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and I have made it a point to articulate this to industry colleagues and at Virgin Blue we have taken an integrated approach to addressing greenhouse gas emissions through internal efficiency programs and industry-wide initiatives,” he said.

The Virgin Blue Airlines Group has had a dedicated team in place for several years working on programs to reduce emissions through improved aircraft operations and adopting advanced technologies. The group is also planning for the future by actively encouraging the commercial development of sustainable aviation biofuels through its membership of the global Sustainable Aviation Fuel User Group. Virgin Blue also fully supports market measures to manage emissions both domestically and internationally, such as emissions trading, and in June the airline group became the first Australian member of the Aviation Global Deal (AGD) Group, which is calling for international aviation to be included in the post Kyoto framework. Other members of the AGD Group are: Air France-KLM, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Qatar Airways, Virgin Atlantic, airport operator BAA, and international NGO, The Climate Group.