Working towards a sustainable future

Highlights of Cathay Pacific’s annual Sustainable Development Report

Cathay Pacific recently published its Sustainable Development Report 2021, which outlines the airline group’s commitments and achievements in reducing its carbon footprint and becoming a better and more environmentally friendly neighbour.

As an airline group, it is determined to overcome challenges to come, from pandemic uncertainties to carbon neutrality by 2050 across the air-cargo industry as outlined by IATA’s vision. It’s vital to manage the recovery and rebuilding process with long-term sustainability in mind. Below are some of Cathay Pacific’s achievements to date, and objectives with commentary from Director Cargo Tom Owen.


‘We recognise that our industry must decarbonise to contribute to global efforts to avert the worst effects of a warming planet. Our stakeholders expect us to take action, so we will be proactive in adapting to the risks and opportunities posed by climate change to ensure our business will thrive as we transition to a carbon-neutral future.’ – Tom Owen, Director Cargo

In 2021, Cathay Pacific:

  • Set a target to use 10% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) for flights by 2030 and signed an agreement with oneworld airlines for the joint purchase of more than 350 million gallons of SAF.

  • Used 68,340 gallons of SAF to date, avoiding approximately 521 tonnes of CO2 emissions.

  • Joined with the Boston Consulting Group and nine other airlines to launch the Aviation Climate Taskforce, which aims to accelerate breakthroughs in emerging technology to modernise aviation.

  • Reduced 20% of CO2 emissions across the Group to only 6.06 million tonnes in 2021 from the year before, with further impact from COVID-19.

  • Offset a total of 27,280 tonnes of carbon emissions produced by flight operations with the Fly Greener programme, of which 3,282 and 16,236 tonnes were offset by individual and corporate customers respectively.

  • Continued to modernise its fleet by taking delivery of six new fuel-efficient aircraft, including one Airbus A350-900, two A350-1000s and three A321neos. HK Express took delivery of one new A320neo.


For 2022, Cathay Pacific will:

  • Devise short-, mid- and long-term work plans to meet net-zero carbon goals by 2050.

  • Strengthen its carbon-offset solutions for individual and corporate customers.

  • Work with industry partners to accelerate SAF development and deployment in the region.

  • Devise plans to reduce ground emissions by 32% before 2030 and 55% by 2035, from a 2018 baseline.


‘As a leading global airline, managing the environmental impacts of our operations is imperative. We will continue to embed an environmentally responsible mindset in our culture and sustainable practices in our operations on the ground and in the air.’ – Tom Owen, Director Cargo

In 2021, Cathay Pacific:

  • Supported Hong Kong International Airport’s (HKIA) long-term carbon pledge to achieve net zero by 2050, with a 55% reduction of absolute ground emissions by 2035.

  • Achieved a 663 MWh reduction in electricity consumption at the Cathay Pacific Cargo Terminal, representing an emissions reduction of 245 tonnes CO2e. It also adopted PVC plastic sheets made from 30% recycled content to reduce the use of virgin single-use plastic.

  • Continued to run the electronic Flight Folder, which replaces the 70 kg of manuals and paperwork needed in the cockpit on every flight. The project will save around 13,400 tonnes of paper per year when operating a full passenger and cargo schedule.


For 2022, Cathay Pacific will:

  • Give priority to its newer more fuel-efficient aircraft being introduced back into service from overseas parking and storage.

  • Continue to progress towards our target of reducing single-use plastics usage by 50% from a 2018 baseline by the end of 2022.

  • Engage in innovative projects related to single-use plastics and food-waste reduction.


‘Cathay Pacific has always played an active role in preventing illegal trade of endangered species. We regularly update our Embargo List and remain vigilant in preventing this awful trade from happening, and we will continue to ensure that all of our live animal shipments put welfare and safety first.’ – Tom Owen, Director Cargo

In 2021, Cathay Pacific:

  • Received IATA’s CEIV Live Animals accreditation.

  • Increased the number of embargoes placed on animals, wildlife and wildlife products to include items such as hunting trophies, shark fins, rhino horns and ivory, as well as live species like racing greyhounds and animals intended for testing purposes.

  • Carried out 1,455 air cargo screenings on 151 freight forwarding agents in line with its Sustainable Development Cargo Carriage Policy.


For 2022, Cathay Pacific will:

  • Continue to work with civil society organisations to prevent illegal wildlife trades.

  • Review and update its Sustainable Development Cargo Carriage Policy.


‘Our vision is to become one of the world’s most customer-centric air cargo service brands, so we will aim to attract, develop and retain a diverse group of talented people with the right behaviours to deliver our Cargo Strategy. We will continue to invest and focus on delivering a modern, contemporary employee experience of which our people can be proud.’ – Tom Owen, Director Cargo

An illustration of two people high-fiving, with a Cathay Pacific Cargo 747 freighter and pride rainbow flags in the background

In 2021, Cathay Pacific:

  • Committed to the IATA 25by2025 initiative, which aims to increase female representation at senior levels. By 2025, we have pledged to increase the number of females in senior leadership positions by 25%, reaching 30% overall.

  • Rolled out unconscious bias and LGBTQ+ allyship training for all employees to further strengthen its inclusive culture.

  • Established a Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee and a dedicated team to set goals and drive change.


For 2022, Cathay Pacific will:

  • Continue building an inclusive and supportive work environment for its people and work towards having a truly inclusive workplace.


‘As the impacts of the pandemic continue to affect communities across the world, we will continue to assist wherever we can, and support citizens in need in our home city of Hong Kong. We will also continue to aid communities around the world through our corporate and volunteer programmes.’ – Tom Owen, Director Cargo

An illustration showing a Cathay Pacific Cargo 747-8F plane carrying a vaccine syringe

In 2021, Cathay Pacific:

  • Delivered more than 165 million vaccine doses to Hong Kong and beyond.

  • Donated more than 4 million items including catering equipment, blankets, childcare kits, and refurbished tablet computers.


For 2022, Cathay Pacific will:

  • Continue to support the community throughout this time of crisis.

  • Encourage and arrange employee volunteering for the community.

  • Work closely with governments to facilitate the transportation of vaccines.