2018: A great year for our sustainability programme

By: Dave Gunner

December 24, 2018

Change is in the Air

Our sustainability programme is called ‘Change is in the Air’. It influences every decision we make and touches almost everything we do. The programme is all about reducing our carbon emissions and improving lives and communities through how we do business, as well as sustainable design and buying. Here’s an infographic with our 2018 headlines:

Our 2018 view

“2018 was a great year for our Change is in the Air programme,” said our sustainability engagement executive Megan Welch, reflecting on this year of progress. “Working on reducing our impact through being more fuel efficient is pretty much business as usual for us, since carbon reduction is our biggest environmental priority. So on top of all the usual reduction measures like new fleet and operational procedures, we were thrilled when we operated the first-ever commercial flight in October using LanzaTech’s innovative sustainable aviation fuel – something we’ve been pioneering for several years.

“We’re excited about the opportunities for the future of sustainable aviation fuels in the UK, and how we can work to scale up production so we can use it routinely on flights. Our work with the Sustainable Restaurant Association also reached a new milestone, with over 70% of our flights now operated by caterers who meet our sustainability standards for onboard food. And we saw our people continuing to fundraise for our much-loved charity partner WE, with over 100 volunteers at WE day and many joining us on volunteer trips to communities we support in India. And there was loads more in between including continuing to review our onboard product, new training for our teams, and updating our website.”

Megan Welch at the WE village in Kenya

Charity partnerships

Our charity partnerships have always been close to our hearts. The Virgin Atlantic Foundation is our own charity which was set up in 2003 to support projects that have the welfare of children and young people at their core. Through the foundations, we have distributed over £7.6 million pounds generated through our Change for Children onboard collections and our own staff fundraising. In 2018 the amount raised was over £650,000 from our onboard collections and over £135,000 from our own staff fundraising. Craig Kreeger, our CEO presented at WE Day UK where 100 of our people volunteered.

Climb, cycle, treck sail and tell jokes

Staff fundraising includes our staff-led adventures which saw groups of our people climb Mount Kilimanjaro, cycle from Kenya to Cape Town, trek through China, cycle from our base in West Sussex to Paris, climb Mount Fuji in Japan, cycle on the west coast of America and sail in the Caribbean. We also had our hugely successful Virgineers golf day, a WE walk for water (in both Crawley and Atlanta), marathon runners in London and New York, countless raffles, cake sales and quizzes, a sunflower-growing competition and charity football matches. 2018 also saw our first ever comedy night for WE hosted by Gareth Neale.

Staff Adventures 2018 Top row, left to right: Climb Kilimanjaro January (30 people), Bike Africa March-May (27 took part), Trek China May (30 People),
Middle row: Bike Paris July (50 people), Cycle West Coast USA October (70 people).Bottom row: Climb Fuji August (48 people), Caribbean Sail November (90! a record)

Gareth Neale from our Corporate Comms team at his charity comedy night which raised £1200 for WE

Special mention this year goes to Pat Patel, a material supplier in our engineering team. Pat, who turned 60 this year, is one of our biggest fundraisers. Find out more about Pat at his fundraising page.

Other causes

Although these funds are primarily to support our long-standing partnership with WE, this year we also supported two appeals for Save the Children Emergency funds (in June for the Syria crisis and in October for Guatemala). We also supported the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund in July to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Madiba’s birth.

Looking ahead to 2019

Looking forward to 2019 we’ve already got WE Day pencilled in the diary and many more adventures planned. We’ll keep asking you to donate your loose change and leftover currency onboard and look forward to sharing with you more of our successes and stories next year.

Dave Gunner

Dave Gunner

I love telling the story of our people, our planes, our places and our planet through Ruby Blog.