Nature Air, World's First Carbon Neutral Airline Joins UNEP's Climate Initiative

NatureAir, the world's first carbon neutral airline, has joined the Climate Neutral Network (CN Net), an initiative led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to promote global action towards low-carbon economies and societies.

The company has become the first in the airline industry to sign up to the CN Net whose participants - countries, cities, major international companies, UN agencies and leading NGOs - have set the most ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets in the world.

"With the airline industry contributing an estimated three percent of global greenhouse gas emissions - nearly as much as the entire African continent, it is vital that solutions to the climate change challenge come from within the industry itself. I welcome NatureAir to the Climate Neutral Network as a trailblazer on the path to zero emissions air travel," said UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

NatureAir was founded on the principle that an airline can be fun, reliable and make a positive impact on the destinations it serves. Based in Costa Rica, NatureAir operates in 17 destinations throughout Costa Rica and Panama. Everyday, it brings more than 60 percent of its passengers within 10 kilometers from national parks or other ecotourism destinations.

Since 2001 the airline has been experiencing an average 20 percent growth rate per year, becoming one of the fastest growing regional airlines in Central America. In 2002 NatueAir flew 40,879 passengers. From January- September 2008 the airline has transported 140,000 passengers.

"The success of the company's performance can be attributed to numerous factors, including its commitment to environmental and social responsibility, its safety record and its reliability with a region leading 93 percent on-time-performance record for over four years," said NatureAir Founder and CEO Alex E. Khajavi.

It was in 2004 that Mr. Khajavi and his team made a pledge to offset all of NatureAir's carbon emissions through the protection of tropical forests in southern Costa Rica. This is made possible by the purchase of carbon credits from the government's pioneering payment for environmental services scheme.

Costa Rica itself aims to be climate neutral by 2021 when it celebrates 200 years of independence and was among the first four countries to join the CN Net.

NatureAir has improved fuel efficiency in its flight operations by seven percent in the last three years through the use of twin-engine fleet, crew training, reducing aircraft weight, and improved flight planning.

Furthermore, NatureAir's subsidiary fuel company has successfully converted the airline's ground fleet to biofuels and is working with Costa Rica government in becoming a biofuel station for third party companies.

"In an effort to reduce our carbon footprint, we have found that sharing our knowledge and lessons learned is the best way to assist other companies at improving their sustainability programmes. With the help of CN Net we can bridge the gap and encourage more aviation companies to turn carbon neutral," Mr. Khajavi said.

Based on a free-of-charge, interactive website, the CN Net provides a platform for its participants to present their strategies in climate neutrality to the world.

It offers easily searchable information on increased energy efficiency, reduced emissions and the use of clean and renewable energy - relevant to sectors as diverse as construction, tourism, agrifood, transport, and information and communication technologies.

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