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Virgin Australia, Boeing join forces on sustainability


Photo: Virgin Australia

Virgin Australia and Boeing have leveraged their longstanding relationship into a wide-ranging sustainability-related memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed in late June.

The MOU comes as Virgin Australia takes delivery of “Monkey Mia,” the first of its eight Boeing 737-8 aircraft.

Signed in Seattle, the MOU targets five areas of endeavor, from addressing the high-profile challenge of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) to promoting First Nations supply chains, careers for women in aviation, high-quality carbon offsets and closer U.S.-Australia clean-energy cooperation.

Virgin Australia’s 737-8 fleet will reduce emissions by at least 15 percent per flight compared to its 737-800 NGs, supporting a 2030 ambition of reducing its carbon-emissions intensity by 22 percent and its commitment to targeting net-zero emissions by 2050.

Marking the milestone, Virgin Australia has ordered a fuel load blended with 30 percent SAF for the first leg (Washington to Hawaii) of the delivery flight to Brisbane.

The MOU builds on the longstanding relationship between Virgin Australia, Australia’s second-largest domestic carrier, and global aerospace leader Boeing.

It reflects the focus both companies place on sustainability, including “the engagement and wellbeing of their people and the pursuit of responsible and inclusive business practices,” Virgin Australia stated.

The MOU also recognizes the ability of both Virgin Australia and Boeing to leverage their significant Australian operational footprints to amplify and accelerate sustainability-related outcomes, with particular reference to the following areas of focus:

  • Sustainable Fuels (SAF): Boeing and Virgin Australia will prioritize joint advocacy for the development of an Australian SAF industry, supporting domestic policy and supply-chain investment to accelerate SAF production


  • Carbon Offsetting: Boeing and Virgin Australia will partner to advance robust Australian carbon offsets that support regional development, particularly for First Nations people. Both companies will work to leverage existing networks to help raise public awareness about high-quality decarbonization opportunities via market-based measures.


  • First Nations Engagement and Inclusion: Boeing and Virgin Australia will work closely to identify areas of potential acceleration in this domain, with a particular focus on procurement opportunities from First Nations suppliers


  • Workforce Development and Inclusion: As two major Australian employers, the companies will partner to identify opportunities to accelerate workforce inclusion efforts in areas such as gender and First Nations people’s representation, internships and graduate opportunities, disability accessibility and broader capability uplift such as mentoring programs


  • Australia-U.S. Bilateral Clean-Energy Cooperation: Reflecting their significant role in the Australia-U.S. economic relationship, Boeing and Virgin Australia commit to work in close cooperation to advance the ambitions of the 2023 Australia-United States Climate, Critical Minerals and Clean Energy Transformation Compact; in particular, its objective to advance responsible clean-energy supply chains

Christian Bennett, chief corporate affairs and sustainability officer for Virgin Australia, said the MOU reflects a marrying of minds and ambition between the two companies and will complement the longstanding and deepening technology relationship between Virgin Australia and Boeing.

“This is the first sustainability-focused MOU between our companies, and we are delighted to partner with Boeing,” Bennett said. “This MOU, which combines our deep expertise in Australia’s commercial-aviation industry with Boeing’s global knowledge and insights, will help to drive and amplify change. This is one example of Virgin Australia’s commitment to build a sustainable business, one that will be here for the benefit of future generations of Australian travelers to come. We know this will not happen overnight, but we are committed to accelerating our effort in a responsible and credible fashion. High-quality partnerships like this MOU with Boeing will be an important enabler of that acceleration.”

Sheila Remes, Boeing’s vice president of environmental sustainability, added, “We are honored to partner with Virgin Australia to tackle the challenges facing us today—mitigating the climate impact of our industry, catalyzing the SAF industry, and human development and inclusion. Together, Boeing and Virgin Australia can advance meaningful solutions for the Asia-Pacific region and the aerospace industry.”

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