Green Travel

How to fly and travel more sustainably: Interview with fly.Green

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As tourism resumes in the wake of the Pandemic, another question is being raised: how can we become more sustainable travellers? To answer this question, I have summoned Philipp Gablenz – one of the founders of fly.Green, which is an online flight search engine seeking to make aviation more sustainable by raising awareness around zero-emission air travel. Yes, it is possible to fly greener – and in this article, we will show you how.

Q: In short, what’s the mission and vision behind fly.Green?

A: We want to raise awareness for more sustainable and zero-emission air travel. Our vision is to establish the environmental impact as a factor in the decision making of travelers. With Fly.Green we have developed a free online flight search engine that takes exactly this into account. We show the actual emissions caused by the requested flights and highlight – and offer – carbon offset. By doing this, we are actually giving the environmental footprint a price tag. We believe that one day the environmental costs will become more important than the price of the actual ticket.

Ultimately, we– the travelers – can contribute to a fundamental change in the aviation industry. Together, we can build up the demand for a more serious consideration of the ecological footprint, by choosing cleaner flights. Our platform, fly.green, is precisely build to serve this mission.

Q: Why did you create this platform?

A: To change something for the better. After more than 20 years in the air travel industry I know the dynamics and issues, as well as the reasons why aviation is so far behind in its ecological development. Some of the major problems are the huge costs for new innovative developments and the tremendous growth, that seemed unstoppable.

I think the COVID-19 pandemic changed the view of a lot of people – and I am one of them. What are the real issues and challenges of our modern and interconnected world? Can we just go on once the pandemic is over, or is this the time for real change and action?

I discussed this with former colleagues, close friends and family members. It was almost a  quest of how we can make the most impact by using our individual knowledge. How can we really make a change? Today, we are a small team of professional enthusiasts and fly.green is our first step to push for more sustainability and transparency.

Together, we can build up the demand for a more serious consideration of the ecological footprint, by choosing cleaner flights

Philipp Gablenz, Co-founder, fly.Green

Q: How can we reduce our carbon footprints when traveling/flying?

A: Information and data plays a key role. A manager would say that “you have to measure what you want to control”. Hence, one has to find out the differences in carbon emissions of airlines and individual flights. This is quite a complicated topic and precisely the reason, why we wanted to make this step as seamless and accessible to everyone as possible.

We compared measurement methodologies and data worldwide. Finally we decided to partner with atmosfair, a German NGO based in Berlin. We are very confident that we made an excellent choice. They are very transparent, award-winning and focused on delivering quality. Atmosfair uses a lot of different factors, such as aircraft type, engine, seat load, and cargo capacity in order to come up with precise emission calculations for every flight. And of course, these methods of calculation are far from being holistic and perfect. There can always be changes prior to boarding or during the flight. However, we found it to be the best solution out there and it provides a very good basis to make a qualified choice.

Q: How much pollution is caused by the airline industry on a yearly basis?

A: A minimum of 3% of total emissions worldwide. Some studies say 5-8%. That is a lot!

And frequent travelers are causing the majority of it. A recent study showed that 30% of humanity is responsible for 93% of energy consumption of flights. Crazy! So flight emissions are a matter of inequality as well.

Let me show you an example of how a flight relates to other things in our daily routines: let’s take a flight from Berlin to New York. The flight will cause on average around 2 ½ tons of carbon emissions per economy passenger. The cleanest flight is around 1,8 tons. So you can save around 880kg carbon emissions. This is as much as using an energy saving light bulb for 13 years – 24/7! The same as doing the laundry 3.227 times or driving more than 5.000 km by car. And it seems scary how much emissions are still caused by your decision to fly, even after reducing your footprint. A proper offset of the remaining emissions will cost you an extra of around 40 Euros.  

We believe in transparency and travelers should know their impact. Therefore, we are showing a more accurate picture on fly.Green. And flights with high emissions are banned from selling via our search engine.

Q: Where do you see the airline industry in 5 or 10 years from now? Will we fly more or less in the wake of Covid-19?

A: I think aviation will have a faster “comeback” than widely anticipated right now. And I think that is why we should at least use all our possibilities, our knowledge, our judgment, and strength to reduce emissions and work towards zero-emission flying. We are convinced to be headed in the right direction with fly.Green. Yet still far from perfect, we are learning every day, and continuously trying to make it better.

Q: Finally, what’s your three best tips for traveling more consciously? 

A: First, only travel for a very good reason. Second, inform yourself about the impact of your travel and reduce it. Flying is the single biggest action where you can reduce your significant carbon footprint. Hotels, rental cars, and every means of transportation should be on your “conscious list” as well. And there is one – not entirely related to travel – very personal choice: food!

Finally, we all know enough to understand what is harming nature. Trust your gut feeling and just make it better. It is on you!

Where are you going on your next trip? Does it involve air travel? If so, you should definitely check out fly.Green to lower your carbon footprint!


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