Breaking Travel News
Breaking Travel News interview: Jackson Pek, senior vice president & group general counsel, Amadeus

Breaking Travel News interview: Jackson Pek, senior vice president & group general counsel, Amadeus

“We have a clear ambition at Amadeus, to ‘make travel a force for good’.

“This is an ambition that stretches right across our company – we have universal buy-in,” declares Jackson Pek, senior vice president and global general counsel at Amadeus.

Speaking to Breaking Travel News in London earlier this month, Pek is keen to emphasise the travel technology company maintains a steadfast commitment to making the sector more sustainable, even as questioning of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) policies intensifies in some quarters.

He continues: “We have been working to communicate our thinking around sustainability as it is a theme that runs through all that we do at Amadeus.

“It is a topic we are very comfortable discussing – and something we monitor closely, an area where we are highly compliant, and where we maintain a directive, separate from our commercial reporting. 

“We can play a greater role the more vocal we are around this topic.”

So, what role can Amadeus play as the travel sector works to cut its environmental impact?

Pek explains Amadeus’ objective is to ‘live today, with tomorrow in mind’ – but how does that translate for the company?

“This boils down to four main ambitions,” he continues.

“On the environmental side, we work to foster environmental sustainability, not only with our own operations, but also by helping others to measure their carbon footprint, or take action to cut those emissions.

“We have the privilege of being at the intersection of travel and technology and we can work to make travel a force for good, based on technology.

“Next, we work to drive social change, which means working with communities that are impacted by travel, or where Amadeus itself has a presence.

“This can involve things like our annual volunteer day, while there are also opportunities throughout the year to make a positive social impact.

“We work with communities to make a destination more sustainable, sharing best practice, and hopefully improving the quality of life for the people who live there.

Travel4Impact is another example here, a social innovation network supporting SMEs in travel that have sustainability at their heart.

“We are able to take a collaborative approach, to generate a greater impact for our work.

“These can be very small enterprises, but they are still focused on sustainability, which is really encouraging.”

Pek continues: “In terms of talent, we maintain a focus on Diversity, Equality and Inclusion (DEI), there are a number of employee resource groups, and we are working to increase the number of female leaders we have in the company.

“IATA has set a 25by2025 target, which we have already exceeded, with more than a quarter of our executives and engineering community female.

“Finally, through governance, we focus on integrity, compliance and those areas.

“This includes things like ensuring the data of our customers is held securely, being a reference point for trust in the travel ecosystem.”

Of course, some scepticism may be appropriate – sustainability has been front-of-mind for the travel industry for a decade or more, yet emissions have continued to rise.

Real change – from the deployment of sufficient quantities of sustainable aviation fuel to effective multimodal transportation – is always seemingly just around the corner.

Instead, travellers are told to use a paper straw.

Pek is quick to point to tangible steps Amadeus has taken, alongside its partners, with the ambition of making a real difference.

“There are things that we can do, and have done.

“We have a number of products, including flight management through Altéa, which can optimise the weight and balance of a plane to minimise emissions and save fuel, while our airport sequence manager, too, optimises landing slots and taxiing for aircraft.

“These are things we can offer to our partners.

“Internally, our move to the Microsoft Azure Cloud will help us lower emissions; and this is a journey which is ongoing.

“We are working to ensure our operations, globally, are carbon neutral by 2025.”

Against this internal backdrop, Pek also points to Amadeus research that suggests, not only is the travel sector taking sustainability more seriously, but that technology will be key in solving the challenges faced.

The study revealed optimism for the global travel industry about hitting the UNWTO-proposed goal to reach net zero by 2050 – with some 89 per cent of ESG decision-makers believing the industry can reach its target.

Notably, the study highlighted a clear and recognised role for technology to help the industry reach its ambitions.

Some 92 per cent of respondents indicated technology is important to help organisations achieve environmental sustainability objectives, with 91 per cent saying the same for social objectives.

Pek continues: “Technology is indispensable in the process of making travel more sustainable – and our place at the intersection of travel and technology is a real privilege.

“Technology has transformed all of our lives in so many ways and we believe it will be a key enabler for the future of our industry.

He adds: “One of the obstacles to change identified in that research was support from the senior management – and I am happy to say that has not been the case for Amadeus. 

“This is a long journey – and we working to play our part.”

More Information

Amadeus’ technology powers the travel and tourism industry. Inspiring more open ways of working. More connected ways of thinking, centred around the traveller.

Amadeus is an IBEX 35 company, listed on the Spanish Stock Exchange under AMS.MC and has also been recognised by the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for the last 11 years.

Learn more about Amadeus on the official website.

Chris O’Toole