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Optimizing the environmental performance of our products and services

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Air France has developed its eco-design process to optimize the environmental performance of its products and services, but also to go further: as a responsible corporate citizen, it also seeks to create social value through its service offer.

The products served aboard are the focus of special attention and the fact of minimizing their environmental impact must in no way be allowed to detract from the quality of available products. On the contrary: it must improve them.
To maximize effectiveness, the product is viewed throughout its entire life-cycle. The Group is involved in far-reaching change which has an impact on its product creation and design process, calling for new skills and appropriate methods, such as “life-cycle analysis”.

In conjunction with eco-design and innovation experts, Air France has accordingly developed a new training module to meet these specific requirements. The fully cross-functional module covers all job sectors and key players in the service chain, from R&D to procurement and inflight service, not forgetting the product end-of-life cycle phase.

Several products have since been developed using this method. All are the outcome of team work by staff at Air France and its industrial partners, who are delivering new, lighter materials that can be largely recycled or re-used. 

The new short-haul seat now offers a lower environmental impact thanks to a significant reduction in its weight, which has been cut to 9.1kg, i.e. 5.4 kg lighter than a conventional seat. This will generate fuel savings of 2.4 million euros and an annual reduction of 5,300 t of CO2. Its innovative seat-pan is very comfortable and removes the need for a seat-back recline mechanism, thereby preserving the space of the passenger sitting behind. Passengers with disabilities will also find the seat easier to get in and out of.
In short, this new approach to product design is a threefold economic, ecological and commercial success story, which delivers enhanced value to customers as well as an improvement in the product’s environmental performance.

At another level, the wine bottles used in the Voyageur cabin aboard long-haul flights are now made of PET, a material that has been specially developed to guarantee wine’s keeping and taste qualities. Through its high-quality visual aspect, the new material meets the demands of our brand image.

The bottle has been well-received by Voyageur class passengers and saves 2,000 t of CO2 per year.

The Company also places an emphasis on its societal commitment by selecting suppliers from the sheltered sector. In many areas, such as blanket cleaning, processing satisfaction questionnaires, or selecting a wine grower who employs CAT rehabilitation centre personnel, Air France seeks to encourage the employment of workers with disabilities and thereby create social value.
These are only a few examples of our cooperation and commitment in our relations with suppliers. 

Through these actions, its local roots in France and its societal commitment, Air France contributes to creating extended social and environmental value and offers customers products that are aligned on its commitment as a responsible corporate citizen.  

Life cycle analysis

Life-cycle analysis is an arbitration method used to help the Company make the right choices.  Before deciding whether to opt for washable or disposable equipment, Air France carries out a type of comprehensive environmental impact analysis known as “life-cycle analysis”, using the long-haul meal tray as the focus of the study.

The results were indisputable, and showed that CO2 emissions are much lower for a lightweight plastic item that is incinerated than for a much heavier item that is washed and re-used (Incineration is mandatory due to the very strict regulations requiring us to burn all items that have come into contact with food products from a foreign country).

Trimming just 1 kg from each plane in the Air France fleet saves over 80 metric tons of CO2 per year. The priority is thus to reduce the weight of products carried aboard.

To sum up, Air France is investing in order to effectively reduce the environmental impact of products by acting as far upstream as possible using the eco-design approach.  It is an approach that calls for new skills and the deployment of new evaluation aids.