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Delta Air Lines’ CFO plots course to net zero

Delta Air Lines is committed to reducing its carbon footprint, with its CFO Dan Janki believing that “people should not have to choose between seeing the world and saving the world”

Delta Air Lines’ CFO plots course to net zero

Atlanta-headquartered Delta Air Lines is responsible for transporting around 200 million people to nearly 300 destinations in over 50 countries globally.

The company, which employs more than 75,000 people internationally, states its key aim as “giving back to the communities it serves” and it plans to achieve this by reducing its carbon footprint and ensuring an equitable work environment.

Delta Air Lines’ CFO Dan Janki says that climate change will “deeply” impact the future of aviation and that carbon reduction is a priority for the long-term success of the company.

“We know that more than 60% of our customers prioritise sustainability in their everyday lives, while our SkyMiles customers tell us they want us to address the opportunity,” he says.

“We strongly believe that you should not have to choose between seeing the world and saving the world, and our stakeholders – our people, customers, investors and our communities – are very much on board.”

He explains that Delta’s is focused on driving change and delivering transformational action. Therefore, the company has established short-, medium- and long-term goals to deliver a net zero future.

“Our immediate actions include studying and improving what we fly, how we fly and what we put in our planes to help lower our carbon emissions,” he says.

“In 2022 alone, we are expecting to have reduced fuel consumption by over 10 million gallons through operational and fleet modifications.”

Delta Air Lines CFO Dan Janki
Delta Air Lines CFO Dan Janki

Finance in the pilot’s seat

As the CFO, Janki is playing a key role in steering Delta Air Lines’ carbon reduction strategy.

This includes serving on its environmental, social and governance (ESG) council, which oversees the ESG goal-setting process and implementation of key ESG-related initiatives at the company.

Carbon reduction is integral to the business decisions he and his team make daily, which “must accelerate a sustainable future for Delta”.

According to Janki, Delta took advantage of the lull in travel during the pandemic to accelerate fleet renewal. This has already had a significant impact, as older planes were retired and replaced with more fuel-efficient aircraft.

“As part of my role as Delta’s CFO, I oversee fleet and fuel, which are two of our biggest expenses and are both central to our net zero strategy,” he says, noting that expediting the retirement of nearly 200 of the airline’s least fuel-efficient aircraft in 2020 was one of the most important decisions taken so far.

Refreshing the company’s fleet with next-gen aircraft is also saving the airline millions of dollars in fuel costs, he adds.

Delta is also investing in sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), with the airline looking to replace 10% of its traditional jet fuel with SAF over the next eight years.

“While SAF is not yet widely available, Delta is dedicated to driving SAF development through partnerships with our corporate customers and other airlines,” he says. “They are working with us to purchase SAF, generate demand, and achieve economies of scale.

Partnerships with SAF suppliers, such as DG Fuels and Gevo, have allowed Delta Air Lines to secure 200 million gallons annually in upcoming offtake agreements, putting the airline halfway to its 2030 goals.

“Our effort to drive SAF development and the modernisation of our fleet with new, state-of-the-art, more fuel-efficient aircraft are two examples of the unified strategy,” says Janki.

“In addition, our finance team, along with other members of the Delta family, are spearheading sustainability initiatives through their involvement in our ‘Green Up’ business resource group.”

He adds that the company has also embarked on a major campaign to electrify its ground equipment by 50% by 2025.

Work in progress

Janki points out that Delta’s focus on ensuring sustainability in its operations does not end with the aircraft and fuel it relies on to fly it. It is also prevalent in its pursuit of environmentally friendly policies for all its passengers and crew too.

“Customers flying with us today will notice our refreshed eco-conscious onboard products, including artisan-made amenity kits, recycled bedding, reusable and biodegradable utensils and premium canned wine,” he says.?“Together, these products will reduce onboard single-use plastic consumption by approximately £4.9m per year – that’s roughly the weight of 1,500 standard-sized cars.

“We are proud of our progress but know that we have a lot of work ahead of us, given that aviation is one of the hardest sectors to de-carbonise,” he adds.

“The good news is that our entire industry is committed to the vision of a net zero future, and our customers, employees, investors, and other key stakeholders are there to make sure we live up to that commitment.”

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