July 17, 2019

FLY FREE: KLM is telling travellers not to fly in a powerful new campaign

Words by Matt Leedham

Airlines normally can’t get enough of luring travellers to book seats on one of their planes, but not KLM. The carrier is now telling people to reconsider flying altogether.

The national Dutch carrier KLM has unveiled a new campaign which has left customers scratching their heads because at first glance it appears as though it’s telling people that they don’t need to book a flight at all for their next trip.

Really? Yep, that’s exactly what the airline is saying.

What’s the challenge?

No other human activity pushes individual emission levels as fast and as high as air travel. Alongside that stark fact, the airline industry has been copping bad press for years for their needless over-use of single-use plastics and lack of recycling practices.

While many airlines are now adopting new environmental policies and initiatives, including biofuel development and adoption, plastic reduction, better waste management and carbon offsetting programs, there’s still a long way to go.

KLM says on their website; “We’re in this together. We work hard to get things right, but all parties involved need to join forces to create a sustainable future. All stakeholders in the aviation industry, all corporations in any industry. And yes, all air travellers too. What can you do, in addition to carefully considering your travel plans?”

What’s the solution?

KLM’s genius new campaign may seem a little confusing at first but on closer inspection, it’s actually a powerful message to encourage travellers to fly more responsibly.

In a video as part of the campaign, KLM’s Chief Executive Pieter Elbers invites travellers to make “responsible decisions about flying” by considering an alternative means of getting to their destination (such as by train), packing lightly and by offsetting their CO2 emissions.

“A hundred years of aviation comes with great responsibility because you want our children to get to know this beautiful world too, right?”

Pieter Elbers, KLM Chief Executive

“That’s why we’re working night and day to improve flying for the next 100 years, but we can only make it possible together,” the carrier added.

“That’s why we want to ask you something – to fly more responsibly. Do you always need to meet face-to-face? Could you take a train instead? Could you contribute by compensating your CO2 emissions or packing light?

“We all have to fly every now and then, but next time think about flying responsibly.”

Pieter Elbers, KLM Chief Executive

The new campaign is accompanied by a comprehensive website where travellers can learn more about KLM’s concept and initiatives around flying responsibly and how it can be adopted by all.

What will the positive impact be?

KLM is currently the world’s fourth most fuel-efficient airlines, according to the International Council on Clean Transportation, following Norwegian, WOW Air, and SWISS.

in 2011 KLM flew the first commercial flight on biofuel, and in 2012 they launched the Corporate Biofuel Programme for corporations. Today they use 57 times more sustainable fuel than they used in 2011, however, the airline says the production of sustainable fuel is still far below what is needed.

KLM will soon be launching the first sustainable fuel plant in the Netherlands with SkyNRG. The plant will run on regional, organic waste streams such as used cooking oil and residue from other industries in the local region.

This campaign with intent clearly sends a message to airlines globally to lift their game as well as helping to shift people’s perceptions, awareness and knowledge around the impact of flying.

KLM. We salute you.

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How can you travel to change the world?

Congratulations! By reading this post and taking some of these insights on board, you’ve already made a difference.

Now you can easily create your impact by sharing your new-found knowledge with other friends who you think would also be interested.

Ultimately, responsible travel comes down to common sense – stay curious, keep yourself up-to-date with the challenges at hand and make yourself accountable for your actions on your travels.