From the jet-set to the off-set
22 November 2019 Gareth Berry
Image credit: Scott Webb on Unsplash @scottwebb
Hot on the heels of my #ustainability blog, easyJet made the boldest of plays this week by announcing it would offset all jet fuel emissions, becoming the world’s first major airline to operate net-zero carbon flights across its entire network.
easyJet’s CEO, Johan Lundgren, said “Climate change is an issue for all of us. At easyJet we are tackling this challenge head-on by choosing to offset the carbon emissions from the fuel used for all of our flights starting today. In doing so we are committing to operating net-zero carbon flights across our network – a world first by any major airline.”
A smart move in my eyes. By moving first in this space, and with this singular play, easyJet has made the switch from the budget airline category into the environmentally-friendly airline category. A category that they now own and in which, for now, they are the only player. By becoming the airline of choice for the eco-conscious traveller, people will shift from choosing their airline on price, to actively seeking out easyJet options when looking for flights and holidays. For the foreseeable future, easyJet will benefit from the feel-good glow of guilt-free flying. I can see many a future holiday conversation beginning with a holier than thou “we flew with easyJet…”
So how will this translate to the bottom line? Will this be a case of ‘get woke, go broke’, or will the market support easyJet’s move into this new category? easyJet has said the initiative will cost about £25m in the next financial year, a not insubstantial sum. Their net profit for 2018 was £466m, so the £25m is clearly affordable, and the market responded extremely positively to the news with the share price jumping 7% on Tuesday following the announcement.
Importantly, easyJet was keen to stress that ‘offsetting is only an interim measure until other technologies become available to radically reduce the carbon emissions of flying’ and announced a major partnership with Airbus to investigate electric and electric-hybrid planes for short haul flights around Europe. This initiative deepens easyJet’s environmental credentials, avoids any accusation of the carbon offsetting being perceived as a one-off or a stunt and further embeds in people’s minds easyJet as the eco-choice.
I hope they go a step further and encourage the customer at the point of purchase to match (or more) easyJet’s contribution. To give the customer the opportunity to ramp up their eco-worthiness with the opportunity to share their environmental contribution on their social channels. To be part of a new movement, to make a move from the jet-set, to the ‘off-set’ if you will.
At Heavenly, we believe that actions speak louder than words. That what a brand does is far more important than what it says it does. That these days consumers will easily see through false promises and empty strategies. So well played easyJet. I know who I’ll be flying with next summer.