Online retailer Lastminute.com is to offer its airline customers the chance to offset their carbon emmissions as part of the booking process, claiming a first for a major travel company.

From November 27 customers will be asked whether they want to pay an additional charge to global warming organisation Climate Care as the point of payment in the booking process.

The system will automatically estimate the CO2 emmissions of the flight being bought and calculate how much the customer should donate to Climate Care, that invests the money in environmental projects around the globe.

Lastminute.com chief executive Ian McCaig said: “I am delighted to announce our carbonwise initiative which will both inform travellers about the impact of flying on the environment and empower them to positively participate in addressing climate-change issues.

“With hundreds of airline partners offering thousands of flights, our initiative marks one of the biggest leaps for the industry.

“As the first major travel company to take this action, lastminute.com is urging others in the industry to follow suit in a bid to reduce the impact of aviation emissions and play an active part in combating climate change.”

Climate Care founder Mike Mason said: “I am delighted that lastminute.com has taken such a pioneering and responsible approach to climate change.

“They are not only offering customers the chance to offset their emissions but they are also taking a real lead in educating customers and making them look actively at their choices.”