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KLM Issues Global Call to Industry, Travelers to 'Fly Responsibly'

Just ahead of its 100th birthday, the Dutch airline calls on global aviation industry, individual travelers to join forces for sustainable air travel — or take the train, instead.

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has issued a global call to action on sustainable travel under the name “Fly Responsibly.” The airline is challenging the aviation industry as a whole — and also individual travellers — to join forces to create a more sustainable future for aviation, together.

In an open letter published this weekend in leading international newspapers in the US, the UK, Brazil, the Netherlands, the Nordics and Germany — including the New York Times, the Guardian and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung — the airline is urging everyone to join in this effort by making responsible travel decisions.

While KLM does not claim to have all the answers, the initiative is rooted in the belief that joining forces with all key players is essential. To accelerate progress and find new solutions, the initiative reaches out to every stakeholder in aviation, including other airlines and air travellers, to join in this effort.

The open letter from KLM’s CEO, Pieter Elbers, is underpinned by a video, which asks a series of questions including: ‘Do you always have to meet face-to-face? Could you take the train instead? Compensate for your CO2 emissions by packing lightly?’

The video is part of an online platform, where — under the new name and logo ‘Fly Responsibly’ — the airline commits itself to achieving maximum progress, and prompts travellers to reconsider their options before taking a plane. The Fly Responsibly initiative is conceived and created by KLM’s long-time creative partner, DDB Unlimited.

“Sustainable development in aviation is not a ‘one-airline topic,’ and actual progress will only be made when we work together as an industry,” Elbers said in a statement. “That’s why with the launch of the ‘Fly Responsibly’ initiative, we invite others to use our CO2ZERO programme for carbon compensation free of charge and free of brand, and partner in our corporate BIO-fuel programme.”  

The aviation industry is responsible for 2 to 3 percent of global manmade CO2 emissions. As demand for air travel rises, so, too, will this number. KLM says it has already made considerable progress in becoming more sustainable through weight reductions, recycling and carbon offsetting. AirFrance KLM Group has ranked at the top of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for the past 14 years; however, efforts by one player in the industry alone is not enough. 

A global call for collaborative action

As is true of any global sustainability effort, joint industry engagement is needed for substantial progress. Leading the way, KLM not only recently became the first airline to invest in sustainable aviation fuel at such a large scale by investing in the first sustainable fuel plant in Europe, it is also committed to sharing its sustainability best practices and tools with its competitors. Stepping forward, KLM is committed to sharing its knowledge in this field — such as optimal flight insights — with all airlines. It is also offering competing airlines free use of its CO2ZERO CO2-compensation programme.

“KLM has strong views on creating a sustainable future for aviation, so it’s very fulfilling to turn this vision into the ‘Fly Responsibly’ platform,” said Esther te Pas, Managing Director at DDB Unlimited. “This isn’t a campaign, but an initiative with a long-term commitment to change. We’re proud to take the lead and to help KLM to really set the agenda on sustainable air travel.”   

Tips for taking action can be found on the Fly Responsibly website.