American Airlines' Sustainable Operations

Dec 7, 2022 2:20 PM ET
American Airlines headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas. Tall, angular, office building

Originally published in American Airlines 2021 ESG Report

Reducing our carbon footprint is the most impactful way American can minimize our impact on the environment, but we also work hard to improve environmental sustainability across all of our operations — from how we construct and power our corporate facilities to how we source the products we provide to our customers on board and in our lounges.

In 2022, we updated and expanded our Environmental Policy Statement to more clearly articulate American’s commitment to environmental stewardship and our expec tations and objectives for how we integrate that across our operations.

We also continue to pursue certification for our environmental management system under the International Air Transport Association’s Environmental Assessment (IEnvA) program, which assesses airline performance against sustainability standards for air quality and emissions, noise, fuel consump tion, recycling and sustainable procurement. Airlines certified under IEnvA standards will also be ISO 14001 certified.

Operating sustainably in our facilities

As part of our goal to source 2.5 million GJs of costcompetitive renewable energy to power our operations by 2025, we purchased nearly 750,000 GJs of electricity from renewable sources for our headquarters facilities and operations at DFW in 2021. In the past year, these facilities were 100% powered by renewable energy. As of January 2022, American was the highest-ranked transportation company — and 53rd overall — on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnership Fortune 500® Partners List.(4)

We also have multiple LEED Gold- and Silver-certified facilities across the United States, including two LEED Gold-certified buildings at our corporate headquarters campus that we opened in 2019.

Reducing environmental impacts on board

American has a number of longtime efforts aimed at reducing waste and increasing recycling on board our aircraft. Among them, American recycles an average of about 21,000 pounds of aluminum cans annually through our flight services.

We are also taking steps to use more sustainable materials — and, in particular, to find ways to reduce single-use plastics — as part of our onboard products and meal service. While adjustments made in response to COVID-19 presented challenges in advancing some of our sustainable materials goals — such as providing bottles of water rather than refilling cups to minimize contact — we have tested a number of new products over the past two years that we are aiming to roll out more broadly.

For example, in 2021 we piloted a sustainable cutlery kit made out of bamboo. We also began offering a sustainable meal box, which is a fully compostable box with prepack aged snacks, across our regional operations. In addition, we introduced new onboard amenity kits for premium cabin customers in partnership with Shinola and D.S. & Durga, which include a number of sustainability features. For example, the dental kit and ear plugs are individually packaged within a biodegradable wax paper instead of single-use plastic, and the toothbrush is made from wheat straw instead of plastic.

Alongside these onboard efforts, we have instituted a number of sustainability improvements in our lounges. They include switching from plastic to compostable flatware and straws, installing water bottle filler stations, testing reusable to-go bags and more.

Reducing Aircraft Noise

We recognize and are committed to addressing the ongoing concerns of local communities regarding aircraft noise. One way we have done this over the past few years is by voluntarily retrofitting our aircraft with fuel vent vortex generators (VGs). These fairings are installed around the wing fuel tank over the pressure vent, on the underside of the wing of the A320 family of aircraft. These vents reduce airframe noise during portions of the approach by an estimated four to six decibels. Prior to 2014 deliveries, Airbus did not equip aircraft with VGs — so American has invested over $1 million to retrofit our pre-2014 aircraft with this feature.

By April 2022, we had modified 290 narrowbody pre-2014 aircraft with retrofit VGs, meaning all Airbus aircraft in our fleet now have the VGs utility.

We also continue to meet or exceed ICAO noise certification standards, which currently specify that operators can fly Stage 3, Stage 4 or Stage 5 aircraft. All of American’s mainline and regional fleet meet Stage 4 noise certification levels, and 20% meet Stage 5 noise certification levels.


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