The global and necessary debate about climate change, global warming and CO2 reduction is currently (and I’m pretty sure also in the near future) dominating the headlines.

And I would go even further and say that sustainability in all of it forms — fuel/CO2 reduction, compensation possibilities, weight reduction, etc. — will definitely become a huge competitive advantage for airlines.

Not represented in operations

At the moment and from my point of view, most of the airlines haven’t realised (or do not want to?) the huge impact of this change. Of course, some of them have started to implement measures (e. g. compensate your flight, sustainability websites, operational measures).

But from my perspective this has the taste of some quick pills to cure the heaviest pain, but not like a comprehensive approach to tackle that challenge.

An indication that this topic hasn’t arrived in day-to-day operations at airlines, is the lack of sustainability KPIs — which are measured daily or in real-time.

When talking to airline representatives, sustainability KPIs seems to be relevant when it comes to annual reports but nothing that is represented in daily operations.

Daily operations still is determined by punctuality, stability, regularity — you name it.

And this, of course makes sense at first glance. You wouldn’t cancel a certain flight just because of its CO2 balance (at least not yet). And passengers are (still) more interested in arriving on-time than arriving with a perfect CO2 balance.

What are the essential sustainability KPIs

But there are many KPIs which are worth to be monitored on daily basis or in real-time:

  • How much fuel has been burned today?
  • How much CO2 has been generated today?
  • What’s the fuel burned per pax ratio?
  • What’s the CO2 per pax ratio?
  • Which are the most economical routes in terms of CO2 today?
  • Which are the worst routes?
  • Which’s the most economical aircraft today?

As always, the KPIs itself won’t improve the situation — but you know the saying “if you can’t measure it, you can’t control it”.

Why sustainability KPIs are that important?

That’s why I’m strongly convinced that it is inevitable to establish these KPIs and integrate it in your daily/real-time monitoring.

And I’m pretty sure, that once established the ball of initiatives based on it starts rolling immediately.

  • You will identify weaknesses (why are certain flights performing that bad?) and be able to setup counter measures
  • You will be able to improve your customer communication due the availability of more, more accurate and more up-to-date information
  • You will promote the topic of sustainability internally and create thought-provoking impulses
  • You will create a transparency about CO2 across routes and aircraft
  • You will create a basis for further analytics on CO2 and fuel

And each of this points is super-necessary in terms of sustainability and will become increasingly important over the next years.

So from my point of view, the question is not “should I set up sustainability KPIs on a daily basis / in real-time” — the questions has to be “how fast can I setup the KPIs” in order to push the topic of sustainability and to outnumber my competition.


Benjamin Walther, CEO, Information Design
Get in touch with Benjamin directly: benjamin.office@id1.de or connect with him on LinkedIn