According to a 2014 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Working Group report, the transport sector was responsible for 14% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The aviation sector was responsible for close to 11% of this, translating to roughly 1.5% of the total. While aviation's impact on climate change is less than road transport and many other sectors, these emissions are still high, mainly due to jet fuel burnt during aircraft operations.
Global aviation stakeholders are aware of how emissions adversely affect climate change. They are globally committed at industry and government levels to achieving carbon neutrality in line with the temperature goals defined by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (Paris Agreement).
In October 2021, Pegasus Airlines joined other leading global airlines to commit to the "2050 Net Zero Carbon Emissions" target set at the 77th Annual General Assembly of the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Under the motto "Fly Net Zero," we commit to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
In October 2022, the "Fly Net Zero" campaign was further endorsed by international aviation's main governing body – the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a specialized agency of the United Nations. The 41st ICAO Assembly adopted a long-term global aspirational goal (LTAG) for net-zero carbon emissions in international aviation by 2050 in support of the Paris Agreement's temperature goal.
Achieving net zero by 2050 will require eliminating emissions at the source through fleet renewal, technological innovation, optimization, efficiency, and alternative energy sources, including the use of Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF). New carbon capture technologies and carbon offsetting may also support this. See below a breakdown of contributions by these measures to the "Fly Net Zero" target, as presented by IATA.
Airlines' strategy towards net zero (Source: IATA)
We are now evaluating our path toward reaching our 2050 net zero carbon emissions target in light of ever-changing technological, market, and regulatory circumstances. We are evaluating tools and measures to better elaborate how we aim to achieve our long-term target in the coming years.
Please refer to this brief informative video on how the aviation industry plans to achieve “Fly Net Zero,” courtesy of IATA.
Our Mid-Term Carbon Intensity Reduction Target and Performance Metrics
Global aviation is expected to continue a steady growth into 2050, and airlines are committed to becoming carbon-neutral operators simultaneously. Although the target is way ahead, it needs to be supported by decisive action and a trajectory suggesting that it is practically achievable.
In December 2021, we strengthened our 2050 net zero commitment by setting an interim carbon emissions intensity goal for 2030. With this target, we aim to decrease flight-related carbon emissions per unit passenger kilometer (RPK) by 20% by 2030, compared to 2019.
As of October 2021, we started announcing our carbon emission data benchmarked against previous years as part of our monthly traffic data.
In 2019, our flight-related carbon emissions were 64.9 grCO2/RPK. Due to COVID-19-related restrictions, our performance deteriorated in 2020 (71.1 grCO2/RPK) and 2021 (70.8 grCO2/RPK) and recovered again (61.9 grCO2/RPK) in 2022.
Pegasus maintains the youngest aircraft fleet in Türkiye and runs one of the youngest fleets among all low-cost carriers globally. Our fleet's average age was 4.5 years as of 30 September 2022.
In July 2012, we placed a firm order with Airbus for 75 firm order and 25 optional Airbus A320/321neo aircraft. This was the largest single aircraft order in Turkish civil aviation history at the time.
Following the exercise of our option in December 2017, and several amendments and additional orders up to 2022, our 2012 Airbus Order, as amended, contained a total of 42 A320neo and 72 A321neo aircraft. In addition, in 2016, Pegasus became the first customer of the CFM-Leap series engine used on A320neo aircraft.
Significant investment in our fleet and ongoing fleet transition brings substantial advantages in reducing fuel burn. According to Airbus, the new generation neo aircraft, compared to previous generation models (Airbus A320ceo – current engine option or Boeing 737-800NG), provides 15-20% efficiency in fuel consumption and carbon emissions.
The share of the fuel-efficient new generation Airbus neo aircraft in our fleet, in terms of total seats, reached 72% as of 30 September 2022. We expect this to reach 97% in 2025. Investment in a fuel-efficient fleet and further potential fleet efficiency and advancement opportunities will help us move towards our 2030 and 2050 targets and continue to play a vital role in the early stages of our roadmap.
Use of Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF)
Achieving net zero by 2050 will require eliminating emissions at the source through fleet renewal, technological innovation, optimization and efficiency measures, and alternative energy sources, including using Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF). This will potentially be supported by new carbon capture technologies and carbon offsetting. Below is a breakdown of contributions by these measures to the “Fly Net Zero” target, presented by IATA.
While the exact proportion estimate may differ according to various reports and projections, the critical role SAF is expected to play to help aviation meet its 2050 net zero targets is evident. This is primarily because jet fuel is the leading cause of an airline's carbon footprint. An alternative propulsion technology (e.g., hydrogen) on mid/large-sized commercial jets is not expected to enter the market before 2035.
SAF represents a non-fossil-derived aviation fuel. SAF's chemical and physical characteristics are almost identical to conventional jet fuel. SAF can be mixed with conventional jet fuel at varying degrees and benefits from using the same supply infrastructure and existing aircraft and engines. SAF has been actively used in flights since 2016, and its use is growing. The main difficulty surrounding SAF is availability and cost, as a significant scale-up in production and affordability will be necessary to make this alternative fuel viable.
Burn of SAF in jet engines does produce emissions. The neutrality impact of SAF comes through the lifecycle of carbon emissions reduction as the non-fossil raw materials SAF is made from abated CO2 in the atmosphere during production, significantly reducing emissions through its lifecycle. The efficiency ratio will depend on the SAF pathway, i.e., the production method of SAF used.
Pegasus Airlines has been operating some international flights with SAF since 2019. In March 2022, we extended SAF use to our domestic flights between Izmir Adnan Menderes Airport and Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen Airport, and Ankara Esenboğa Airport and Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen Airport. Procuring SAF from Neste Corporation and supplied by Petrol Ofisi, we continue this domestic use of SAF, which constitutes the first-ever use of SAF in domestic flights in Türkiye.
We are currently planning our future SAF procurement, and we are also engaging in discussions with a wide range of stakeholders for the development of SAF production in Türkiye.
Carbon offsetting refers to reducing or removing CO2 or other greenhouse gas emissions to compensate for emissions created elsewhere. In the case of airlines, this means to neutralise any residual emissions after all reduction measures (e.g., through less fuel burn or the use of SAF)are exhausted. It is also regarded as a transitory mechanism for aviation to neutralise the impact of greenhouse gas emissions until wide-scale reduction becomes technologically and economically available.
In some jurisdictions, regulatory action requires airlines to measure and report CO2 emissions arising from their operations, some of which also require neutralising specific above-threshold emissions through carbon offsetting. To address the difficulties and concerns caused by local and regional regulations, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a specialised agency of the United Nations, introduced the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) scheme in 2016.
According to ICAO, CORSIA is the first global market-based measure for any sector. It represents a cooperative approach that moves away from a patchwork of national or regional regulatory initiatives. CORSIA was implemented to complement several other measures put in place to help the ICAO achieve its mission of carbon-neutral growth from 2020 onwards.
CORSIA relies on using carbon market emissions units to offset the CO2 emissions that technological and operational improvements and sustainable aviation fuels cannot reduce. The CORSIA approach depends on comparing the total CO2 emissions for a year (from 2021 onwards) against a baseline level of CO2 emissions, which was re-defined in 2022 as 85% and 15% of CO2 emissions from international aviation covered by the CORSIA for the years 2019 and 2020, respectively. In the upcoming years, any international aviation CO2 emissions covered by CORSIA that exceed the baseline level represent the sector's offsetting requirements for that year.
CORSIA will be implemented in three phases. The pilot and first phases allow for the participation of ICAO Member States in the CORSIA offsetting voluntarily. The second phase requires the involvement of all Member States except the states exempted from offsetting requirements.
● Pilot phase: from 2021 to 2023.
● First phase: from 2024 to 2026;
● Second phase: from 2027 to 2035.
All Member States with airlines undertaking international flights need to develop a monitoring, reporting, and verification (MRV) system for CO2 emissions from international flights starting from 1 January 2019. The MRV requirement is independent of the offsetting requirement. The Member States’ data will be used to calculate CORSIA's baseline and form the basis for calculating aircraft operators offsetting requirements, where applicable. Türkiye joined CORSIA from the pilot phase, and the regulatory basis was set by the Turkish General Directorate of Civil Aviation's Regulation on the Implementation of CORSIA (SHT-CORSIA).
Our journey of monitoring and reporting our greenhouse gas inventory, including Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) Reporting, started in 2012. In 2019, we updated our methodology to comply with CORSIA regulations during the voluntary pilot phase.
On 5 June 2022 – World Environment Day – we initiated our first non-mandatory carbon offsetting project by offsetting our total CO2 emissions from our flight operations that day by supporting a local renewable energy project.
We are now considering further future offsetting opportunities and are also planning on introducing a voluntary carbon offsetting program for our passengers early in 2023.
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