Dawn Wilson, managing director of TUI Northern Region Airlines – TUI Airways and TUIfly Nordic speaks to Ian Taylor about flying towards an eco future


Aviation remains vital to travel and destination communities, and there is no immediate prospect of replacing carbon as a fuel. So what can the industry do about climate change?

Dawn Wilson explains: “I’ve worked in aviation for over 30 years and seen many changes. The one consistent theme is the opportunities, investments and stability aviation, travel and tourism bring to many regions that are otherwise disadvantaged. Without aviation many destinations would be practically unreachable. Our goal should be to fulfil aviation’s role with the smallest possible environmental impact.

Do you see increased concern about climate change?

Responsible tourism and climate change have become a core focus for TUI. Our employees and customers expect us to be doing everything we can to make a positive impact in the destinations we fly to.

We regularly debate how to become more sustainable and responsible. My Nordic colleagues are most concerned about climate change, which isn’t surprising as Greta Thunberg’s Fridays for the Future movement started in Sweden. This has made them and their customers more engaged.

We’re mindful that the travel and tourism industry contributes around 5% of global carbon emissions, with half arising from aviation, therefore a reduction in global carbon emissions is essential. As an airline that provides flying for a tour operator, we also know that quality holiday experiences depend on beautiful, biodiverse destinations, thriving communities, stable weather systems and customer comfort.

How is the industry responding?

Aviation is one of the most challenging sectors to decarbonise. TUI Airways has invested in new aircraft, flying the 787 Dreamliner on all our long-haul routes.

As an industry we have developed Iata’s goals for carbon-neutral growth from 2020, and from 2050 the aim is for CO2 emissions to be half what they were in 2005. The Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (Corsia), which starts from 2020, is key to this.

I’m proud aviation will be the first industry in the world to have a global carbon emissions mechanism in place. Offsetting provides an international solution for aviation.

Other low-carbon solutions can be developed like Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), produced from renewable sources such as municipal waste. This has the potential to reduce lifecycle emissions from aviation fuel by up to 80% compared with fossil fuels.

Unfortunately, only a fraction of the demand for SAF in Europe can be met at the moment which results in high prices and poses a major barrier. We believe incentivising production of SAF would be the preferable way of reducing carbon emissions.

What are TUI airlines’ doing to be more carbon-efficient?

Reducing the carbon footprint of our airline operations is a crucial element of our Better Holidays, Better World strategy.

Due to our modern fleet and fuel conservation efforts, TUI’s airlines now emit 19% less CO2 than the average at Europe’s six largest airlines.

Our two largest carriers, TUI Airways in the UK and TUIfly in Germany ranked first and fourth in the 2018 Atmosfair index of the world’s most-carbon efficient airlines. But we believe more can be done.

We are completing trials using a blend of sustainable aviation fuels and involved in industry initiatives such as the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group and BioPort Holland to help scale sustainable fuels of the future.