Dutch carrier KLM has launched a campaign calling on passengers to ‘Fly Responsibly’ insisting airlines “have to take a different stance” in face of growing concern about global warming.

KLM chief executive Pieter Elbers launched the campaign at Amsterdam Schiphol airport saying: “We ask passengers to think about flying responsibly.

“Do you always need to meet face to face? Could you take the train instead? Could you offset [the carbon emissions of the flight]?”

Elbers said: “We are not saying don’t fly. We are saying fly responsibly. Do it but do it considerately.”

He suggested the biggest challenge facing the aviation industry “is to keep our licence to operate”. To do that, he said: “We must make sure we operate in a good way.”

Elbers called on rival carriers to cooperate in developing practices to reduce emissions in the same way they share information and best practice on safety.

He said: “There is never competition on safety. We share best practices. We should do it in a similar way to address sustainability. We should not limit the initiatives we are taking.”

Elbers was speaking at an event on Saturday to commemorate the centenary of KLM’s founding in October this year.

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He said: “The Fly Responsibly campaign demonstrates we look not only to the past but to the future. KLM is ready for the next 100 years.”

However, responding to a question about removing plastic from KLM operations, Elbers said: “To remove all the plastic from flights is almost impossible.

“We are looking to develop alternatives to plastic, to be mindful about just removing it because it means you wash everything and carry extra fuel and so increase carbon emissions.”

KLM’s campaign will run in major newspapers and online, and with a Fly Responsibly video shown on flights.

A KLM spokeswoman said: “This is a call to make flying more sustainable – to think before you take a flight. It’s a call to passengers, to governments, to other companies.”

She told Travel Weekly: “There is a changing mentality among passengers. We have seen school students’ protests. You can’t ignore the impact. We want to be the front runner on this.”

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