Our results so far

Covid-19 has significantly reduced our day to day operations, so the results here focus on the great progress we made up to 2019. We remain fully committed to our sustainability programme and we’ll have more to tell you about our plans later in 2021. Our priority focus areas are new fleet, sustainable aviation fuels and carbon offsetting (CORSIA).

2007 - 2019 our carbon efficiency has improved by


*reducing CO2 per RTK, a measure based on weight passengers and cargo carried

2007 - 2019 our total carbon emissions has reduced by


2007 - 2019 our carbon per passenger kilometre has reduced by


You can find more detail about our plans in our one page carbon summary and our Ruby blog: a blog by Virgin Atlantic.

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Three steps to tackle our footprint

💚 We've invested in new, more efficient aircraft (around 30% less carbon per trip) and are innovating on ground-breaking new waste-based sustainable aviation fuels 


💚 We're actively supporting the new global UN-Led Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) and other industry wide collaborative efforts.

💚 We’ve reduced the weight of onboard products (8% in 2016 - 2019) also reduces our fuel use, saving 4,600 tonnes of carbon per year across the fleet.




It doesn't stop there

Build a responsible supply chain


💚 Thoughtful Food is our onboard food programme, in partnership with the Sustainable Restaurant Association. We ask suppliers to meet challenging criteria including sourcing fairly traded products, promoting higher animal welfare standards, and sourcing sustainable certified fish, seafood, beef, soy and palm oil (or finding better alternatives).


💚 86% of our flights are served by caterers who meet all our standards.


💚 We encourage hotels to gain a sustainability certification and manage their carbon footprint (currently 25% of our hotel volume is certified and we’re aiming for 75% by 2021)

Improve our ground operation efficiency

💚 From 2008 - 2019, we reduced our ground energy use by 47% and our CO2e emissions by 66%.


💚 In 2019 we achieved 7.4% annual decrease in buildings CO2e emissions.


💚 We’ve shifted our car fleet to fully electric and hybrid vehicles and we're providing electric charging points for staff.





Partnering with non-profits


💚 Through WE charity we’ve installed solar power in schools, health clinics, greenhouses and family homes as well as supporting economic development in poor communities.

💚 We’re training operators on the World Cetacean Alliance responsible whale watching guidelines, which include requirements protecting marine environment and reducing carbon.

You can help too

Our carbon offsetting scheme, in partnership with offset experts ClimateCare, finances renewable energy and natural resource conservation projects around the world, helping people from poorer communities access cleaner, safer, affordable energy and reduce carbon emissions.

Offset your carbon


You can offset the carbon for your flight using the calculator from our partners ClimateCare. We've added the code VirginOffset to give you a discount (if it doesn't show just add it yourself). 👉



There are two ways you can use this calculator


💚 Quick and simple: Using the Start tab, enter the contribution you’d like to make (maybe £5, £10 or £20) or the tonnes you’d like to offset. This won’t match the precise carbon footprint of your flight, but you will be supporting some great projects that help to tackle climate change around the world.


💚 Measure your flight footprint and offset your flight: Go to the flights tab, input your flight details and offset your measured footprint. This will ensure that the offsets you buy will cover your flight carbon footprint fully.


Put simply, offsetting means buying carbon credits equivalent to your carbon impact. This means you compensate for every tonne of CO2 you emit by ensuring there is one tonne less in the atmosphere.


Along with achieving verified carbon reductions, ClimateCare projects tackle poverty, promote energy independence and improve people’s health and wellbeing.

In partnership with 



Whether it’s protecting rainforests in Sierra Leone, providing efficient cookstoves in Kenya or powering communities with renewable energy in China – all these projects generate positive outcomes, backed up with verified carbon credits.

What else can you do to help?

Apart from offsetting your carbon footprint there are some other things you can do to help


Pack lighter

If all our passengers reduced the weight of their bag by 1kg we could save around 4,000 tonnes of CO2 each year.


Bring reusable water bottles

Fill up your reusable water bottle at the airport to save plastic waste, and have it refilled onboard.


Use public transport 

Think about travel options to and from the airport. Most airports are well connected to public transport links.

Recognition of our efforts

🏆 We were awarded a B score in the 2019 CDP climate list, which rates the environmental performances of corporations worldwide.


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🏆 Global Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Award winner for climate action, recognising our work with LanzaTech developing low carbon jet fuel.


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🏆 World Travel and Tourism Council’s Tourism for Tomorrow’s Award for our sustainable onboard food and drink programme with the Sustainable Restaurant Association.


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🏆 Best Corporate Social Responsibility Programme at the Business Travel Awards in 2016 for our Change is in the Air programme

🏆 Employee Engagement and Behaviour Change, at the edie Sustainability Leaders Awards, for our Captains’ Study on fuel efficient flying.



🏆 Sustainable Transport and Travel award at the edie Sustainability Leader's Awards for our work with LanzaTech

Industry action and partnerships

Global aviation supports economic development, trade and tourism. With these come responsibilities, to people and communities, to the environment, and to animal welfare. As a global aviation community, we work together through international organisations, trade bodies and partnerships to tackle these areas.

Carbon targets for aviation

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) represents airlines at a global level. In 2009, IATA agreed to the world’s first set of sector specific climate change targets, focusing on aviation CO2 emissions.

Improvements in aviation technology, operations and infrastructure are going a long way to meet the first of these targets. But our industry also recognised early on that we need some form of global market-based measure (MBM) to help us progress in the medium term. After a huge amount of effort and negotiation, October 2016 saw a crucial climate agreement reached for global aviation by UN body International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and participating nations. The measure, known as the Carbon Offset and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), will establish the world’s first carbon offsetting scheme for any industry. CORSIA addresses the second of the IATA targets: carbon neutral growth.


CORSIA is the Carbon Offset and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation – the historic carbon global sectoral deal for commercial aviation, agreed by UN body International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and participating nations in October 2016, after many years of negotiations. First a bit of context.  A key UN principle dictates that all airlines must be treated equally in international regulations, to avoid competitive distortion. This ensures airlines from different countries, operating on the same routes, face the same financial landscape.  As such, our sector has its own climate negotiations regulated by ICAO and currently sits outside the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 2015 Paris Agreement.

A global climate deal for our sector has long been supported by our industry, as the means to avoid competitive distortion while achieving the second of our industry agreed targets: carbon neutral growth from 2020.  In 2008, Virgin Atlantic Airways was one of the airline founders of a small industry group called Aviation Global Deal, which campaigned for a global carbon measure such as this. A globally-agreed sectoral approach like CORSIA is more environmentally effective than taxation, as taxes are paid to national governments and not necessarily assigned to environmental projects. Through CORSIA, airlines will collectively input billions to robust carbon reduction projects around the world, which could include renewable energy and mangrove restoration. So when the deal was struck in October 2016, our industry body IATA and many of the world’s airlines, like our own, were delighted.

CORSIA is the first global scheme covering an entire industrial sector. Starting in 2020, all airlines from 80 participating states, representing ~77% of international aviation activity*, will purchase carbon credits from robust carbon offsetting projects, to account for their share of international aviation growth. After the first voluntary phase of the scheme (2020-2026) it will become mandatory, and all nation states  will participate (apart from a few exemptions for airlines from small and least developed states).  The scheme is set to raise huge amounts of funds (likely billions) for credible carbon removal and reduction projects around the world, including much needed conservation and renewable energy projects.

For more details on how CORSIA will work, visit the ICAO website.

*as of May 2019.

Working together

We work in a truly international environment, relying on lots of organisations working together to get our aircraft from A to B. We also work with industry partners to look to the future for aviation.

Airframe and engine manufacturers

Airbus, Boeing, Rolls Royce and GE, our airframe and engine manufacturers, are fundamental to helping us deliver on our objectives. Over many years, they’ve been innovating improvements to offer the significantly more efficient, quieter aircraft that are part of our fleet today and will increasingly play a bigger part in our future.


We rely on the airports we work with to do their bit for the sustainability of our operations. Like us, they run a number of initiatives around things like more efficient buildings, water saving technologies, recycling and low carbon transport solutions. Our home airports, London Heathrow, London Gatwick, Manchester, Glasgow and Belfast, all have their own visions around (and commitments to) managing their impact on the environment and local communities.

Air traffic management

Aircraft fuel use accounts for over 99% of our direct carbon footprint. The routes we take and the altitudes we fly at directly affect this. That’s why air traffic management is so important to us.

Air Navigation Service Providers are working on better use of airspace design to help ensure aircraft fly the most efficient route through take off, cruise and landing.

Sustainable Aviation

In 2005, Virgin Atlantic Airways was a founding member of UK industry group Sustainable Aviation. It’s a long term programme bringing together key players in the UK aviation sector, including airlines, airports, manufacturers and the air traffic management provider. We work collectively to ensure a sustainable future for our industry.

In 2020, Sustainable Aviation launched an update of its CO2 RoadMap, which sets out how the UK aviation sector can grow while also reducing CO2.  

SAFUG- Sustainable Aviation Fuels User Group

A key priority of our Change is in the Air programme is the development of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF).  As well as partnering with cleantech company LanzaTech to develop SAF from industrial waste gases, we are also members of SAFUG, so we can work together with industry colleagues and experts to move this important field forwards.

We are signatories to the SAFUG Sustainable Pledge, and believe that a key driver to a carbon neutral industry is advancing and adopting sustainable aviation biofuels. You can read the full pledge here http://www.safug.org/safug-pledge/