Etihad Airways is the second largest airline in the United Arab Emirates after Emirates airline. The airline commenced operations in 2003 and has been in the market ever since. Etihad extends its operations in destinations such as the Middle East, Europe, Australia, Africa, Asia, and America; undertaking more than 1000 flights weekly to over 120 destinations, both passenger, and cargo, in the continents mentioned above. One of the issues that Etihad Airways is concerned with is environmental management. The airline is committed to minimizing the environmental impact of its operations wherever possible. Etihad Airways is divided into four departments which are Etihad Airways, Etihad Airways engineering, Etihad Flight academy, and Etihad Services group. Etihad Services Group is comprised of catering, ground handling, and cargo management. As a trainee, I am privileged to have an experience in each of the four departments. As a trainee, I have been assigned varied roles in the field of environmental management. Some of these roles include conducting an environmental impact assessment of proposed projects, conducting environmental and regulatory reviews, and utilizing computer-assisted programs to manage, track, and schedule environmental management review activities. The primary purpose of this essay, however, is to determine the environmental management activities carried out in Etihad Airways.
Environmental management field is wide and comprises of various control measures involving all the environmental factors. These environmental factors include air, soil, water, and waste management. The measures carried out include, but not limited to, waste management, fuel consumption, air pollution control, water recycling initiatives, soil management, among others. At Etihad Airways, these environmental measures are at the forefront to ensure that the organization does not result in a risk to the environment but instead helps in creating a better one where possible. As an environmental analyst trainee in this organization, these activities are exposed to me but kept under check by a supervisor.
As earlier mentioned, Etihad Airways is extensively committed to environmental management. Efforts have been made in the areas of ensuring minimal air pollution through emission of gases and in ensuring efficient as well as maximum utilization of resources such as fuel. For instance, the airline has been engaged in concerted efforts to improve the efficiency of their aircrafts. This was in an attempt to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emission in the air. This operation has been active since the year 2006 and has had a positive impact resulting in a reduction of more than 24 percent. Other efforts have been in the area of waste management through reduction and recycling initiatives with the aim of diverting waste from landfill in the air and on the ground. The airline also has made collaborative efforts geared towards ensuring the development of a sustainable biofuel industry. This is done in the collaboration of other partners such as Boeing, Takreer, Total and Masdar Institute on a project dubbed BIOjet Abu Dhabi: Flight Path to Sustainability. This project was powered by a 2014 flight which utilized locally produced biofuel. Since then, the UAE has been able to produce and fly using their aviation biofuel. This biofuel is environmental cautious and also saves on cost.
The company is also a founding partner of the Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium (SBRC) which is carrying out a project on Seawater Energy and Agriculture System (SEAS). A two-hectare SEAS pilot facility opened up in 2016 at the Masdar Institute with plans to scale it up in the coming years. SBRC activities are geared towards environmental sustainability in that with the availability of bioenergy; there will be less reliance on the natural fuels such as petrol and diesel whose extraction pose a hazard to the environment. With the scaling up of the SEAS facility, the airline will be able to serve its needs as well as extend to the needs of other airlines in the country. There are plans to scale up the project elsewhere in future, and this could open possibilities in other countries. This will be a major step for Etihad in ensuring sustainability in environmental management at home and outside.
Wildlife forms an integral part of the environment and caring for them is an environmental management initiative. Etihad Airways has been at the forefront in caring for wildlife through a signatory to the United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce Declaration, in partnership with other five players. The core driver for this initiative is to stop the illegal trade of wild animals. The airline incorporates the Animal Welfare and Conservation Policy which follows strict protocols on cargo related to wildlife and the installation of controls on holiday activities that involve engagement with the wildlife. These efforts by the airline show their commitment to the achievement of a sustainable environment even as they conduct their profit-making activities.
The activities mentioned above are on-going, and this means that as a trainee I am exposed to some as they are being executed. However, most of the duties assigned to me are under strict supervision since the management claims to allow close to zero chances of mistakes since it would cost them and possibly delay their operations depending on its magnitude. The area that I am currently assigned involves collecting and analyzing data related to environmental performance. This includes data for projects such as SEAS, the recycling project, and other minor projects that are conducted in this department. The data I collect is about the current situation of the projects to be compared with previous data of months ago depending on the timeframe being allocated to the analysis. After collecting this data, I forward it to my supervisor who guides me through the process of analyzing the information and determining whether its progress, stagnation, or a negative performance. For some projects that are not too complex such as waste management, fuel, and water consumption, I am given the full mandate to collect data and conduct the analysis to the end, only presenting the final report to the supervisor. With this kinds of responsibilities, I have been exposed and enlightened on lots of insight on environmental management.
There exists several environmental issues that are currently facing the organization and whose solution can be found in environmental management. One of the issues is concerning waste management. True as it is that the organization has a program on waste management, there is also a small idea that can be added to the program. Waste management for this organization involves ensuring that there are enough dustbins into which trash is thrown. Other efforts are in diverting waste from landfills in the air and on the ground. My observation, however, has been the presence of lots of plastic bags in the form of water bottles, fruit cans, disposable cups, plates, and spoons, and other plastic items that are used during flights either by the staff or the passengers. These plastic items are then disposed upon completing their use and are added to the rest of the waste during disposal. Plastics are an environmental hazard since they do not decompose. This situation is the same with polythene bags. Etihad offers transport services to thousands of people alongside other services such as catering. This translates to the number of plastic bags and polythene papers being disposed. During times when my schedule is not too tight, I have managed to collect an estimated data on this issue basing my statistics on the number of passengers using Etihad airways on a daily basis. With an approximated one thousand weekly flights, this translates to thousands of plastic substances being disposed on a monthly basis.
The solution to the above problem can only be found through environmental management strategies. One way to solve this problem would be to introduce an alternative to the use of plastic bags. For instance, water and other beverages that come in plastic bottles can be provided in glass bottles. Polythene bags could be replaced with aluminum foils or non-polythene papers. Secondly, plastic bottles and other utensils could be recycled. After disposal b the customers (passengers) these items can be collected and get re-used. They only need to be cleaned and rebranded to look as good as new, making them ready for re-use. The disposal mechanism of burning them would result in more harm to the environment as it would cause air pollution due to the smoke and the release of chemical substances in the air as the plastic burns. To minimize on cost for this procedure, Etihad can join hands in a partnership joint with a recycling company that would offer the cleanup and rebranding services. This would solve the problem both internally and in any other country in which Etihad offers their services.
In summary, it is evident from the above discussion that Etihad Airways is committed to environmental management and sustainability. Being the second largest of the United Arab Emirates, Etihad has made efforts to ensure that their operations do not pose a risk to the environment, as well as taking further steps to launch environmental programs and projects to improve sustainability. Some of their efforts include improving the efficiency of their aircrafts which led to a reduction in the carbon emissions across all their fleet. Waste management and recycling initiatives are also at their forefront to reduce on the landfills both in the air and on the ground. Additionally, they have collaborated with other partners to launch a project that oversees seawater energy production and conservation along with efforts to eliminate illegal trade of wildlife through a policy known as United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce Declaration. According to an observation made during training, the organization is in need of a policy to regulate the use and disposal of plastic bags and polythene papers which are especially in use in the form of water bottles or food cans. An environmental solution would be to recycle them or use an alternative such as glass. Etihad, therefore, is committed to environmental management.
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