How Yaser Farhood is taking SAUDIA towards net zero via The Sustainable Flight Challenge and more
"Sustainability is a state of mind, a lifestyle, an area that I admire and continue to learn from. The key to understanding the future can be narrowed down to one word: sustainability." - Yaser Farhood, GM Operations Projects at SAUDIA
In 2016, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) launched the ambitious Vision 2030 programme. Essentially, Vision 2030 is a roadmap for the future of Saudi Arabia with sustainability at the heart of everything the Kingdom does, from policy development and investment to planning and infrastructure.
With more than 20 planned projects of massive scale, Vision 2030 aims to transform the Kingdom’s economy and society, while moving it away from its oil-dependent roots. In 2021, the Kingdom as a whole committed to reaching net zero by 2060.
Unsurprisingly, Saudi Arabian Airlines (SAUDIA), the Kingdom’s flag carrier, is set to play a major role in the country’s transformation.
Since sustainability has been at the heart of Vision 2030 since its inception, it has been at the top of the airline’s agenda as well. Currently, there’s a large-scale effort underway to ensure that the airline moves towards a sustainable future.
In 2022, SAUDIA was at the forefront of some promising achievements in sustainability.
As a participant in the SkyTeam Sustainable Flight Challenge (TSFC), SAUDIA was the first airline to operate the world’s longest net-positive flight on May 12 by offsetting a total of 346 tons of carbon emissions, including radiative forcing impacts by a factor of two, for flight SV227 from Jeddah to Madrid.
On the same flight, SAUDIA also led the world’s first in-flight sustainability lab. It involved guests on the flight submitting ideas on how air travel could become greener. Each guest and staff member inflight were also asked to contribute suggestions while airborne. This later won the highest award in the Customer Engagement category of the flight challenge.
That’s not all. The airline also offset 100% of SAUDIA flights to London for the Formula E race weekend in July and is committed to do more in the sustainability sphere. Recently, it became one of the five leading Saudi Arabian business partners of the MENA regional Voluntary Carbon Market (VCM). It is also the first in the MENA region to invest in sustainable air mobility, with plans to purchase 100 all-electric Lilium Jets (eVTOL) and support certification across the region.
And this is just the beginning.
Meet the Changemaker
Yaser Farhood is General Manager, Operations Projects at SAUDIA. His role includes a mandate to initiate, lead, and manage a sustainability roadmap preparing the airline’s journey towards net-zero operations by 2050.
Mr Farhood’s professional background includes more than 35 years of aviation experience in both aviation safety and operations. During the pandemic, in April 2020, Mr Farhood led SAUDIA’s Restart Operations working group and implemented safety measures for COVID-19.
On September 2021, in addition to his role as General Manager Operations Projects, Mr Farhood was assigned the duties and responsibilities of the VP Environment & Sustainability.
“Our airline is aware of the aviation industry’s 2050 commitment to net zero and is wasting no time in planning and implementing green initiatives”, says Mr Farhood. “We know that no matter how small or simple, every little bit counts.”