How Mariam Musallam AlQubaisi is taking Etihad towards net zero via operational efficiency and more
"Pro-sustainability options are often more expensive than other options and do not necessarily have a monetary return on investment." - Mariam Musallam AlQubaisi, Head of Sustainability & Business Excellence at Etihad Airways
Etihad Airways is serious about sustainability and wants the world to know. Over the last couple of years, Etihad has taken the task of going green with sincerity, exploring new technologies and future paradigms of net-zero flying.
For example, in October 2021, Etihad ran a test flight (EY20) from London Heathrow to Abu Dhabi with 72% reduced carbon emissions, compared to an equivalent 2019 flight.
In 2022, the airline went even further. In October, they operated a flight from Tokyo to Abu Dhabi using a 40% blend of SAF supplied by ITOCHU Corporation and NESTE. It became not only the first international airline to procure SAF in Japan but also represented the first delivery of 50,000 gallons of SAF, entirely produced in Japan, which will be used to fuel aircraft in the near future. (The airline has also partnered with World Energy to make carbon-neutral flying possible).
On 13 November, Etihad also flew their “first net zero carbon flight” from Washington to Sharm-El-Sheik for COP27, claiming 10,000kms of emission-free flight. Recently, the airline was also recognised as Environmental Airline of the Year for 2022 in the Airline Excellence Awards.
Meet the Changemaker
If you’re marvelling at the rapid clip of sustainability initiatives at Etihad, Mariam Musallam AlQubaisi, Head of Sustainability & Business Excellence at Etihad Airways is the person to congratulate. While sustainability initiatives enjoy support right from the top, Mariam’s single-minded focus on going green is a key driver at Etihad.
Mariam is a self-motivated Emirati with a multidisciplinary background in renewable and nuclear energy, natural resource management, change management, and innovation. At Etihad, she supports a pro-sustainability transformation within the organisation, making Abu Dhabi’s airline a thought leader in sustainable aviation focused on cleaner fuels, operational efficiency and carbon offsets. She is also an active sustainability expert serving task forces within the GCAA, IATA and ICAO.
She is quick to tout Etihad’s sustainability transition as their greatest achievement.
“Supporting sustainability was an option, today it is a must! Sustainability has grown into a core pillar in our corporate strategy, and our CEO meets with us bi-weekly solely to discuss how we can make Etihad and the industry greener and cleaner”, she says.
According to Mariam, this transition has given Etihad a pro-sustainability persona underpinned by the airline’s decarbonisation, waste management, and biodiversity protection efforts.