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FAQ



What is The Sustainable Flight Challenge?
TSFC aims to bring some of the aviation industry together through friendly competition. TSFC is inspired by the great London to Melbourne aviation race of 1934, which generated many innovations and changes to international travel. Similarly, TSFC is about which airline can operate the most sustainable flight or generate the most significant innovation to further reduce aviation’s impact on the environment. Participating airlines will be judged across 14 categories by an international and diverse panel of judges, and the winners recognized at an award ceremony in June.

What is The Sustainable Flight Challenge looking to achieve?
By organizing the Sustainable Flight Challenge, SkyTeam aims to bring some of the aviation industry together, through a friendly competition, to create innovation and take action now. The goal of the challenge is to further reduce aviation’s impact on the environment and to spur breakthrough ideas, which can be shared across the industry. TSFC seeks solutions from all sources to encourage the best outcomes. The 14 awards will ensure we can drive action and solutions in many areas of aviation, not just in the air.

Why did you create The Sustainable Flight Challenge?
The aviation industry, like many others, has the responsibility to reduce our carbon footprint and continue to improve our environmental impact. The Sustainable Flight Challenge is an important step in the right direction for our industry to make real changes and contribute to a more sustainable by harnessing competition to spur action and innovation now. In addition, the 14 awards SkyTeam curated will ensure we can inspire solutions in many areas of aviation, not just in the air.

Who can participate in the challenge?
As this is the first edition of the challenge, organized by SkyTeam, we have kept participation within the SkyTeam family. We are open to expanding the challenge to other important actors within the aviation industry in the coming years. This includes suppliers, airports, ground handlers, other airlines and all the other players that contribute to our far-reaching industry.

What, if any, will be the impact on the customer experience for participating airlines?
There is a challenge category related to customer engagement and each flight within the challenge will be a regularly scheduled route so, in the short term, customers on those flights will likely get involved in some way. In the long term, the intention is to have successful solutions and insights implemented permanently whenever possible. The challenge and awards are intended as a catalyst for the kinds of innovation required to ensure lasting change in the aviation industry.

What are the challenge categories and how are they measured?
The categories for The Sustainable Flight Challenge have been developed to cover multiple facets of environmental sustainability as it relates to aviation. This includes critical challenges related to carbon emission reduction and extends to ground processes, food and beverage and a variety of other subjects to accelerate sustainable solutions within the industry. The metrics have been developed and tailored for each of the categories and can be provided upon request. Bain and Company and NLR (Nederlands Lucht en Ruimtevaart Laboratorium, Netherlands Aerospace Centre) supported the development of the categories, the measurement process, the scoring and the scientific validation.

  • Impact award categories
    • Greatest CO2 Reduction Long Haul
    • Greatest CO2 Reduction Medium Haul
    • Lowest CO2 Emissions Long Haul
    • Lowest CO2 Emissions Medium Haul
    • Lowest CO2 Emissions Ground Handling
    • Lowest CO2 Emissions Food & Beverage
    • Best Waste Management
  • Innovation award categories
    • Best Sustainable Innovation In-Flight
    • Best Sustainable Innovation Cargo
    • Best Sustainable Innovation Economic Value
    • The Boldest Move
  • Collaboration award categories
    • Best Partnership
    • Best Customer Engagement
    • Best Employee Engagement

What is involved in the ‘Challenge’ itself?
The Sustainable Flight Challenge consists of SkyTeam airlines competing in order to develop, share and implement environmentally sustainable innovations and solutions. Each participating SkyTeam airline will operate one or two flights in the most environmentally sustainable way possible. These flights are then evaluated and scored across 14 award categories. In order to achieve the ambitious goals of TSFC, insights, solutions, and supporting documentation will be collected, allowing a diverse panel of judges inside and outside the aviation industry to review and select the winners.

How can I get involved with The Sustainable Flight Challenge?
Applications to participate in the 2022 programming for The Sustainable Flight Challenge are closed but please contact Robin Spierings by clicking this link if interested in the 2023 program. We will be publishing additional information on participation in the coming months as well so please check back before the end of 2022.

Where did the idea come from?
At the end of last year, a group of innovators in KLM came up with the idea of creating a race, modelled off the great London to Melbourne air race of 1934, which changed the airline industry. They took the idea to KLM’s CEO – Pieter Elbers – who immediately saw the value in bringing this to SkyTeam. SkyTeam engaged with all members who immediately embraced the idea and the competitive spirit of the Challenge. At SkyTeam, we are excited to be the organizers of this Challenge and we can’t wait to see the outcome.

Who are the judges and how did you select them?
The jury consists of the following leaders, and they were selected based on their varied expertise and to reflect the geographical diversity of the participating airlines:

  • Jan Peter Balkenende, Jury Chairperson and Former Prime Minister of the Netherlands
  • Marc Buckley, ALOHAS Regenerative Foundation, UN, and WEF Founder, Regenerative Futurist, and Ecological Economist
  • Marcius Extavour, Chief Scientist and EVP, Climate & Energy, XPRIZE
  • Torsten Lichtenau, Senior Partner, Bain & Company Global head of carbon transition impact area
  • Thiongo Ndungu, Climate Change & Sustainability Leader
  • Zara Rutherford, Youngest woman to fly solo around the world
  • Karen Walker, Editor-in-Chief, Air Transport World
  • Wen-Yu Weng, Principal Consultant, PA Consulting, Transport Lead, Clean Growth Leadership Network and OYW ambassador.

How are airlines sharing their innovations? Can we access these ideas?
Airlines will document their innovations on a digital platform that will be accessible to all participants. Furthermore, The Sustainable Flight Challenge will host follow-up knowledge sharing sessions with participating airlines. These sessions will be divided by theme and will take place after the award ceremony. Participating airlines will continue an ongoing dialogue related to TSFC and the innovations that came out of the friendly competition.

Do you plan to hold this annually? Spread to other airlines?
We would like to conduct this annually and continue to improve on the challenge by harnessing learning and feedback. We would also like to see the Challenge expanded to other airlines and the broader industry as a whole. We are just starting to explore how we do this.

If I have a question about The Sustainable Flight Challenge , who can I reach out to?
For general inquiries, please contact Robin Spierings via the contact link under the Information section or by clicking this link. For media inquiries, please contact Koen van Zijl by clicking this link.

How are winners selected and when will they be announced?
Winners of The Sustainable Flight Challenge are selected by the judges of the challenge who represent a variety of industries and geographic locations. The challenge criteria was developed by Bain & Co. and the validation criteria has been defined in partnership with the Netherlands Aerospace Centre (Nederlands Lucht en Ruimtevaart Laboratorium). The winners will be announced during an award ceremony to be scheduled during the third week of June, 2022. The winning airlines and innovations will be posted to this website once the innovations are identified.

When will the participating flights for The Sustainable Flight Challenge take place?
The flights will take place between 1-14 May 2022 and must be regularly scheduled routes.

Which airlines are participating in The Sustainable Flight Challenge?
The participating airlines for the 2022 edition of The Sustainable Flight Challenge are:

  • Aerolineas Argentinas
  • Aero Mexico
  • Air Europa
  • Air France
  • China Airlines
  • Delta
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • ITA Airways
  • Kenya Airways
  • KLM
  • KLM Cityhopper
  • Korean Air
  • Saudia
  • Tarom
  • Vietnam Airlines
  • Xiamen Air