Unpacking the Sustainable Flight Challenge with SkyTeam’s Head of Operations: A World Aviation Festival Interview

This year, Mauro Oretti, Head of Operations at SkyTeam will be delivering a presentation at the World Aviation Festival in Lisbon answering the question “How effective has the Sustainable Flight Challenge been in uniting 20+ airlines with the aim of fostering sustainability in aviation?”

In advance of this, the SkyTeam Head of Operations joined for a brief 10-minute interview delving deeper into the nuances of the challenge. During the discussion, Mauro explored how the challenge drives innovation around operational efficiency and the complexities that come with extending these initiatives across multiple industry players.

Before the recording, the Head of Operations explained the challenge “is not a marketing endeavour, it is a sustainability endeavour” and as such, “we are not just talking about it, but we are doing something.” Through bringing together airlines and sparking creative thinking around sustainability in the industry, the challenge helps to generate out of the box solutions and nurture them into tangible results.

The Sustainable Flight Challenge (TSFC) is run by the global airline alliance, SkyTeam. Initially the challenge was thought up by a group of KLM employees but was quickly brought under the SkyTeam alliance umbrella who pushed to extend its reach on seeing its potential. First launched in May 2022, 2023 marks the second year of TSFC which was extended to ‘friends & family’ airlines close to SkyTeam growing the number of participating airlines from 18 to 22.

In addition to encouraging friendly competition, TSFC nurtures collective learning. Participating airlines are tasked with taking existing flights in their respective networks and making them as sustainable as possible. Each airline commits to sharing learnings open source and respecting competition law boundaries to help drive industry change. Mauro explains that through TSFC “there are innumerable learnings and finding that can then be utilised in daily operation […] and our idea is really to have an open approach involving as many players as possible.” The competition helps to stimulate creative thinking around sustainability producing ideas that are then translated into long term changes. 

The Head of Operations emphasises the importance of translating the ideas generated during the competition into concrete actions, highlighting it as the most vital phase of the challenge. When the conversation focused specifically on the challenge’s purpose, Mauro explained:

“We have brought together 22 airlines to compete, to work on, and share knowledge and this is bringing very tangible results. These results can then be taken by each individual airline, adopted, and this should foster improvements in the reduction of CO2 emissions.” 

Innovation around sustainability is fundamental to ensuring the future of the aviation industry is compatible with the future of our planet. With increasing concerns about climate change and the industry’s environmental impact, creative solutions can help to unlock new possibilities and support the future of sustainable operations.

To learn more about TSFC, watch the full interview below.

Mauro and other esteemed industry experts will be speaking at this year’s World Aviation Festival. The event will dive into discussions around sustainability, innovation, and much more. View the full agenda here. 

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Article and interview by Jess Brownlow, Editor at World Aviation Festival