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How Delta is fueling a more sustainable future during Earth Month and beyond

How Delta is fueling a more sustainable future during Earth Month and beyond

During Earth Month and beyond, there are a number of ways Delta is making progress on its path to net-zero and bringing the Delta people and customers along on the journey. 

Delta’s work to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 while delivering a more sustainable future of travel is year-round and focuses on what we fly, how we fly and the fuel we use. While we’re making changes that are within our control today, like reducing single-use plastics and reducing fuel consumption, Delta is also working on long-term solutions to fully decarbonize its operations and the industry. During Earth Month and beyond, there are a number of ways Delta is making progress on its path to net-zero and bringing the Delta people and customers along on the journey. 

Delta teams will celebrate Earth Month through a series of engagements and activations that unite its people with Delta’s bold vision for a more sustainable future of travel. 

CHaRM CORPORATE CHALLENGE: Throughout April, GREEN UP, Delta’s sustainability focused business resource group, is partnering with Center for Hard to Recycle Materials (CHaRM), to facilitate an Atlanta-based corporate recycling challenge – in which Delta placed first last year for the highest number of recycled materials. 

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES: April is also Global Volunteer Month with many volunteer opportunities throughout the month available to Delta employees, including a garden cleanup in ATL, a beach cleanup in MIA, a park cleanup in NYC and more.


EMPLOYEE TRAVEL GUIDE: Throughout the month, Delta’s social media channels will feature a new Employee Travel Guide highlighting a Delta employee’s first-hand recommendations for traveling more sustainably and more sustainable travel experiences. 

EARTH MONTH COLLECTION ON IN-FLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT: Travelers on Delta can explore our planet from the skies with a curated “Earth Month” collection on Delta Studio. Enjoy a selection of documentaries and content designed to educate and inspire on Delta’s industry-leading in-flight entertainment.

A year ago, Delta outlined our short, medium, and long-term aspirations to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. As we continue to work toward each, 2024 will see progress in a number of areas:

EMBEDDING SUSTAINABILITY ACROSS THE BUSINESS: Teams across every division have a significant impact on Delta’s sustainability goals because every employee can impact fuel, weight, and waste. This is why Delta introduced new operational sustainability KPIs to engage every employee and unify efforts in driving toward Delta’s sustainability goals. This includes key metrics like APU run-time between flights, which currently averages 65 minutes. Just one minute of run-time reduction systemwide could save ~1.2M gallons of fuel annually. It also includes weight efficiency through thoughtful adjustments to on-board service weight.

DRIVING FUEL SAVINGS: Delta’s Carbon Council continues to make strides in fuel savings initiatives toward the airline’s strategic decarbonization goals. Delta teams have collaborated to drive impact through reduced weight, enhanced landing procedures, and optimizations to flight routing and speed. This year, Delta’s Carbon Council plans to build on more than 20 million gallons of fuel saved in 2023.

SCALING SAF: SAF is the most promising lever known today to accelerate the airline’s decarbonization goals. However, there isn’t nearly enough available to meet global demand, which is why Delta is doing its part to advocate with state and federal stakeholders for policies to increase production of SAF. This year, Delta is specifically advocating for SAF incentive programs in Michigan and New York, as well as working to support the Minnesota SAF Hub dedicated to scaling the SAF industry in Delta’s hub state of Minnesota. 

MODIFYING EXISTING FLEET: Over the last several years, Delta has been working on adding enhanced winglets and lightweight landing gear to its fleet to make them as efficient as possible. Throughout 2024 and 2025, Delta will finalize its modifications of the split-scimitar winglet upgrade on the 737-800 fleet. This milestone will mark the completion of Delta adding the most advanced winglet technology available to all existing fleets that can be modified. 

REDUCING SINGLE-USE-PLASTICS IN FLIGHT: Delta began testing a transition to paper cups on board transcontinental flights in December 2023 – a milestone that would, when fully implemented, eliminate nearly 7 million pounds of single-use plastics onboard annually and bring Delta one step closer to minimizing single-use plastics on board by 2025. Pending the results of the testing, the paper cups would begin rolling out across the Delta network by the end of 2024.

2030 and 2035 are milestone years in Delta’s strategic roadmap to meet all of its sustainability goals. Efforts and milestones that Delta is making progress toward over the next decade include:

THE RISE OF EVTOL: Delta’s goal to have five strategic partnerships with revolutionary tech players by 2025 was kicked off by its investment in Joby Aviation, a company pioneering home-to-airport transportation with its eVTOL aircraft. Delta and Joby are looking to the Delta hub airports in New York and Los Angeles where this service will be offered to Delta customers. We imagine that this decade, Delta passengers will be able to book an eVTOL ride from Manhattan to JFK, bypassing congested New York traffic as they travel to the airport by air with Joby, before boarding their Delta flight.

IMPLEMENTING SAF: As we continue to build on our momentum in advocating for government incentives to scale the SAF industry, Delta hopes to see the SAF market continue to scale as collaboration across the value chain continues to grow. With policy to support the production of SAF and to offset the green premium, Delta would be able to use SAF more broadly throughout the operation, and to meet the goal of 10% SAF by end of 2030 and 35% SAF usage by 2035.  So far, Delta has signed offtake agreements for more than 200M gallons of SAF, which is about halfway to the 2030 goal. 

FLEET RENEWAL: Every new aircraft that is introduced into the Delta network is more fuel efficient than aircraft being retired.  For example, Delta’s recently announced order for 20 next-gen A350-1000s that will start taking delivery in 2026 for international operations will be up to 20% more fuel efficient than retiring widebody aircraft.  As Delta plans to take delivery of new aircraft over the next decade, these aircraft will contribute to even more fuel savings. 

Next year, Delta will celebrate its 100-year anniversary. As the company gears up to celebrate this milestone, Delta is also looking forward to the next 100 years of flight. That’s why Delta is partnering with technology and innovation leaders throughout aviation to re-imagine the future of flight through Delta’s Sustainable Skies Lab. Beyond just financial investments, Delta is pairing its operational expertise with innovators to inspire new ideas and spur industry advancement – the Lab is a place to showcase advancements and a movement to galvanize everyone with a stake in creating the more sustainable future of flight.

HYRDROGEN POWERED AIRCRAFT: Delta has partnered with Airbus in their ZEROe program, which is working toward the world’s first hydrogen powered commercial aircraft. The partnership includes exploring hydrogen technology as well as understanding airport infrastructure realities and the full ecosystem required to produce and supply hydrogen as a safe and reliable potential fuel source. 

REVOLUTIONARY AIRCRAFT DESIGN: Delta has also partnered with Boeing and NASA on their Sustainable Flight Demonstrator program to explore a Transonic Truss-Braced Wing (TTBW), which would revolutionize aircraft design and provide step-change fuel efficiency improvement. Delta is partnered to ensure the longer and more aerodynamic wing design is still operable and reliable. 

“Sustainability is a business imperative at Delta, and while Earth Month is a moment in time to galvanize around sustainability efforts, Delta works year-round to set the company up for a more sustainable future of flight,” shared Amelia DeLuca, CSO of Delta Air Lines. “I am so inspired by the people at Delta who work every day to help make a better, more sustainable Delta for futures to come.”