Navigating New Frontiers of Sustainability at Amadeus By Elets News Network - 22 April 2024

Ranaj Biswas

Exploring the dynamic intersection of sustainability and travel technology, industry expert Ranaj Biswas, Associate Vice President, Engineering at Amadeus, shares profound insights on pioneering environmental initiatives within the sector. Speaking with Kaanchi Chawla of Elets News Network, he sheds light on Amadeus’s strategic investments in sustainability, innovative projects aimed at reducing the environmental impact of travel, and the company’s ambitious goals towards achieving carbon neutrality. Edited excerpts:

Given the notable shift towards sustainability in the travel tech sector, with 58% of companies planning to increase their ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) investments in 2024, could you share some pioneering technologies or projects Amadeus is working on to lead this change?

Amadeus acknowledges the energy-intensive nature of the travel industry and is dedicated to innovating technology solutions that reduce environmental impact for airlines, airports, travelers, and cities. We prioritize R&D investment, dedicating €1,017 million in 2022 to improve operational and environmental efficiency. These innovative solutions include – 

Enabling Sustainable Travel Decisions: We’ve partnered with CHOOOSE to automate carbon emission calculations for offsetting on booking platforms, making it simple for travelers to choose the greenest flight option. Our corporate booking tool, Cytric, integrated into Microsoft Teams, revolutionizes sustainable travel planning. Powered by GenAI, it offers a comprehensive view of sustainable options, including comparing carbon emissions between flights, rail, hybrid, and electric car rentals. Cytric’s Easy platform integrates the HRS Green Stay label for sustainable hotel selection and provides detailed CO2 emission reports for progress tracking. It also simplifies expense management, minimising waste, and enhances sustainability efforts.

Flight capacity management: Amadeus is at the forefront of developing AI & ML algorithms for flight capacity management, optimising bookings to reduce overbooking and emissions. We collaborate with airlines to create AI-powered flight paths for lower CO2 emissions and invest in Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) through initiatives like CAPHENIA.

Optimising airline operations: Our Amadeus Sky Suite uses advanced algorithms to help airlines optimise networks, flight schedules, and equipment usage, reducing resources (fuel, aircraft, airport infrastructure, etc.)  per passenger. We provide CO₂ emissions estimates per passenger flight using International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) data.

Efficient Flight Fuel Management: Amadeus Altéa Departure Control – Flight Management helps airlines accurately estimate the fuel needed for a specific flight, using sophisticated algorithms and historical data. Precisely estimating the aircraft’s weight before the fuel is loaded (zero-fuel weight) permits significant savings in fuel burn, emissions, and economic costs.

Optimising Aircraft Movement: Amadeus Airport Sequence Manager improves aircraft movement planning at airports’ runways by providing sophisticated aircraft slot assignment, thus minimizing the amount of time aircraft spend taxiing on the runway.

Looking ahead, Amadeus will continue to innovate and work towards redefining the essence of travel, sustainably. 

How does your organisation envision its role in reaching the ambitious net zero goals by 2050? Can you discuss any specific strategies or innovations that could
be pivotal in this journey?  

Amadeus is driven by a strong ambition to do our part for a better planet, we have set our eyes on achieving carbon neutrality by 2025 instead of our original target of 2030. Our sustainability approach is multifaced with focus on addressing our direct impacts, supporting our customers, travel players, and travelers, and collaborating with industry associations, academic institutions, NGOs, and other stakeholders. At Amadeus, our commitment to sustainability is not just a goal but a practice embedded in our operations. We are following a three-pronged approach – 

  • Addressing the environmental efficiency of our operations: We actively reduce our environmental footprint and track progress through an Environmental Management System (EMS), including using energy-efficient technology to minimise consumption. Amadeus Datacenter was the largest global energy consumer, accounting for over half of our total consumption. By 2019, it achieved carbon neutrality, reflecting our commitment to renewable energy. Additionally, we annually disclose scope 1 and 2 emissions in our Global Report.
  • Offering sustainable value propositions to customers: We extend our commitment to sustainability by aiding customers in achieving their environmental goals, developing innovative IT solutions to enhance operational efficiency, and providing access to sustainable travel options. We also continuously improve IT solutions for enhanced environmental efficiency while providing carbon emission data for informed decision-making. Our partnership with Microsoft aligns with this goal, as Microsoft Azure is recognized as the most sustainable public cloud, ensuring an eco-friendly IT infrastructure.
  • Industry partnerships: We collaborate with industry stakeholders on joint sustainability initiatives, including the Travalyst coalition, where we align and streamline sustainability information across the industry. We are also the first travel company to join the Green Software Foundation (GSF), a non-profit organisation that works to create a trusted ecosystem of best practices, tooling, standards, and people for building green software.

What frameworks or methodologies are you utilizing to ensure your ESG strategies are both actionable and impactful?

Sustainability is no longer a buzzword but a strategic imperative. At Amadeus, our comprehensive sustainability strategy is centered around environmental, economic, social, and governance practices. This ensures we address the entire spectrum, from reducing operational impact to fostering diversity and inclusion through – 

  • Community Support: Amadeus calculates Community Investment following the Business for Societal Impact (B4SI) framework and methodology. The framework helps companies measure the positive impact of activities in communities that go above and beyond their core business. Community investment includes monetary and in-kind contributions, time, as well as management costs. For Eg: As part of the Green is the New Blue campaign, we’ve signed a global partnership with  Plastic Bank to fund the collection of over 1,00,000 kilograms of plastic from coastal areas to stop ocean plastic.
  • Measurable Impact:  We actively track the effectiveness of our programs. Our ‘Switch Off Fridays’, ‘Bring Your Mug’, reducing waste bin cover consumptions, using sensory (alternate methods of lighting) at working bays, etc. initiatives resulted in an 11.14% decrease in power consumption and a staggering 62% reduction in water usage.
  • Collaborative Power: Sustainability in travel demands collective action. We forge partnerships with organisations to tackle industry-wide challenges. Together, we raise awareness of emissions, establish standard measurement methods, and promote emission-reduction strategies, fostering a more sustainable travel future. Additionally, we are also enabling small and medium-sized enterprises through our global innovation and training program in partnership with IE University. 
  • Empowering travelers: We integrate CO2 emission information directly into travel booking processes. This transparency empowers travelers to make informed choices while promoting multimodal travel options that minimize environmental impact.

Every innovation journey comes with its set of hurdles and breakthroughs. Could you share some of the most significant challenges that your organization has faced in its ESG initiatives and how you overcame them? Additionally, what do you see as the biggest opportunity for growth in this area? 

The travel industry’s sustainability journey has been remarkable, yet challenges remain. Standardising sustainability measurements across travel companies is crucial for transparency and accountability but it is also a complex task due to distinct methodologies. Integrating sustainability data seamlessly into booking platforms without cluttering the user experience presents another challenge. Moreover, shifting consumer behavior requires education and incentives for the widespread adoption of sustainable practices. 

Also Read:- Strategic Planning and Execution for Sustainable Performance

Despite these challenges, breakthroughs are paving the way. In October 2022 Amadeus joined the Travalyst Coalition, a not-for-profit collective of global travel companies. We are collaborating to deliver uniform, industry-wide sustainability frameworks across multiple platforms that are consistent, credible, and easy to understand for both travel providers and consumers; ultimately enabling everyone to make more sustainable choices. We believe that through the intelligent application of technology and further collaboration and transparency across the industry, we can overcome the challenges of today and the future.

Looking towards the future, how do you see the interplay between technological innovation and sustainability evolving? Are there any emerging technologies or trends that you believe will significantly impact how the travel industry meets its environmental objectives?

In line with our commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), we are making significant strides in integrating sustainability into our operations. Amadeus has committed to a short-term goal of carbon neutrality by 2025, and a long-term target of Net-Zero by 2050. This commitment extends to our data center operations, which have been carbon-neutral since 2019. We see the interplay between technological innovation and sustainability evolving rapidly and several emerging trends like Generative AI and data analytics playing important role in guiding the industry approach to sustainable practices. GenAI, for instance, can guide travelers towards more sustainable options across their journeys, including accommodation, transportation, and activities. Data analytics, on the other hand, can help monitor and reduce the environmental impact of travel activities, and as the travel industry shifts towards digital solutions, we believe it will eventually lead to more efficient operations, reducing waste and energy consumption. As we continue to innovate and invest in R&D, we anticipate the emergence of even more innovative technologies that will significantly impact how the travel industry meets its environmental objectives.

Beyond sustainability, our other initiatives encompass poverty alleviation (UN SDG 1) through promoting prosperous tourism communities, safeguarding health and well-being (UN SDG 3) by prioritising traveler safety and supporting health initiatives, enhancing education (UN SDG 4) by fostering digital literacy and providing skills training, promoting decent work and economic growth (UN SDG 8) through empowering local communities and supporting entrepreneurship, contributing to sustainable cities and communities (UN SDG 11) by preserving cultural heritage and promoting environmental conservation, reducing inequalities (UN SDG 10) by providing inclusive solutions and capacity building to make the experience of travel better for everyone.

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