KLM have launched a new advertising campaign, which actually encourages passengers to fly less. The campaign, branded as ‘Fly Responsibly’, was launched on the 29th June with an open letter from the CEO published in all major international papers. Now, it’s been underpinned with a video advert, urging passengers to consider how they fly.
2019 is turning out to be an amazing year for Aviation, with some big birthdays to celebrate. British Airways are celebrating their 100th year, possibly with domestic 747 flights, or not. Embraer turned 50, the first transatlantic flight by Alcock and Brown was 100 years ago and Airbus celebrated their 50th birthday, but lamented the loss of one of their founders. Oh, and of course Simple Flying turned one!
But there’s another airline with a big birthday to celebrate, and that’s Royal Dutch Airline, KLM. On the 7th October, the airline reaches its centenary, claiming to be the oldest continually operational airline in the world. But how will they celebrate this amazing milestone?
Not with fanfare and pomp, it seems, but by asking their passengers to… fly less.
As the official countdown of the last 100 days to the KLM 100 year anniversary began (although sadly without their guest of honor), KLM have launched a new ad campaign urging people to ‘Fly Responsibly’.
In the ad, they claim that “a hundred years of aviation comes with great responsibility”. It then goes on to ask a variety of questions targeted at more responsible travel. These include question the need to meet face to face, whether the train would be an alternative, or if passengers could contribute by offsetting the carbon emissions of the flight.
It concludes by inviting passengers and the aviation industry to ‘join forces’ and to come together in making the world aware of its ‘shared responsibility’. You can check it out for yourself below:
The video features a cameo appearance from the conceptual airliner the Flying-V, a project KLM are working on alongside Delft University of Technology. It wraps up with a tongue in cheek message of, “no actual flights were taken in the making of this film”.
An open letter from Pieter Elbers
Alongside this campaign, an open letter was published in all leading international newspapers on June 29th from KLM CEO Pieter Elbers. In this, he called upon the aviation industry and stakeholders to join forces in the development of sustainable solutions for the future of flight. In the letter, Elbers says,
“Sustainable development in aviation is not a ‘one-airline-topic’ and actual progress will only be made when we work together as an industry. That’s why with the launch of the ‘Fly Responsibly’ initiative, we invite others to use our CO2Zero-programme for carbon compensation free of charge and free of brand, and partner in our corporate BIO-fuel programme.”
The Air-France KLM Group have already been working hard to improve their green credentials. They are ranked in the top three in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, according to the letter. In a bid to maintain this position, KLM are investing in fleet renewal, including taking delivery of new 787-10s and planning the retirement of their 747s.
The Fly Responsibly campaign has been launched alongside a website of resources for passengers and professionals to learn more about sustainability in aviation.
But do they mean it?
KLM, like many airlines, are facing a rising tide of flight shame, with passengers more aware than ever of their impact on the environment. There are also strong murmurings about new European aviation taxes, not to mention France floating the idea of banning domestic flights where the train is an effective option.
These sorts of enforcement would be very bad news for the Dutch airline, as they are heavily reliant on connecting their network through Schiphol. Although they are certainly keen to present an image of environmental conscience, you’ve got to ask how much of this is nothing more than greenwash.
Sure, video conferencing is a thing, and is driving down unnecessary journeys. However, taking the train often just isn’t a realistic alternative to long haul flights. Cutting short haul routes and raising ticket prices would be a more effective effort to reduce emissions, but at the end of the day, KLM need to remain in business.
Nevertheless, it’s refreshing to see an airline with a new message, and at least acknowledging the impact aviation has, and will continue to have, on the environment. “Don’t fly with us unless you have to” is a bit of an unusual marketing strategy, but could be a trend we see more carriers jumping on in the future.
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