Supreme winner Air New Zealand 'delivering for NZ Inc'

Thursday 24 May 2012, 9:59AM

World-beating energy savings and its positive influence at home and abroad, have won Air New Zealand the Supreme Winner title in the 2012 EECA Awards.

The airline has clocked up energy savings worth more than $540 million since starting its energy-saving drive in 2005, and is avoiding 142,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually - figures that dwarf all other Award entries combined.

However, judges said it wasn’t the sheer size of the numbers, but Air New Zealand’s tenacity in pushing for a lower carbon industry, and the positive downstream effect for NZ Inc., that won it the Supreme Award.

Minister of Energy and Resources Phil Heatley presented the award at a ceremony in Auckland tonight (subs: Wed 23 May). Air New Zealand also won the Transport category.

Vowing to become the ‘world’s most sustainable airline by 2020’, the airline has cut fuel use by 15% - a big achievement in energy-intensive aviation. It’s done that with a mix of simple measures - such as culling on-board weight - through to major technical innovations, like aerodynamic ‘winglets’ on its Boeing 767s. Even pilots are taxiing on one engine instead of two, to reduce fuel burn.

Air New Zealand is promoting greenhouse gas reduction across the entire industry, including through more efficient, direct routes. It’s the first carrier in the world to gain regulatory permission to use routes that deviate as much as 240 minutes from a suitable airport, to find shorter and more fuel-efficient flight tracks. It flew the first flight of this type in December last year between LA and Auckland. It was also the first airline to trial second-generation biofuel on a commercial flight, in 2008. Test data from that flight is still being used.

It’s invested $2 billion in modernising its fleet; when it receives its new Dreamliner aircraft in 2014 it will have the youngest and most fuel-efficient commercial fleet in the world.

Ground operations are also a focus: vehicles at Auckland, Christchurch and Blenheim airports are running on 20% biodiesel, a move which has enabled other local companies to use the biofuel.

EECA Chief Executive Mike Underhill said Air New Zealand’s achievement brought positive spin-offs for all New Zealanders.

“Air New Zealand is a highly visible ambassador for our whole economy. Its success in shrinking its carbon footprint in such an energy-hungry industry, is a boon not just for tourism but our whole export sector. There’s an inexorable global shift to lower carbon ways of doing business. Air New Zealand has chosen to lead the industry rather than being just another small national carrier. It’s giving the whole country a competitive advantage, and it’s also promoting energy improvement in local businesses, such as through its supplier network.”

He said although Air New Zealand’s energy costs were astronomical compared with most Kiwi companies, the close attention to detail it used to help cut energy waste, was an approach any business could gain from.

The Transport Award was sponsored by Z Energy. Also in the Transport category, New Zealand Post Group was Highly Commended for a fuel-efficiency programme that’s avoided more than $4.5 million in fuel costs. And Biodiesel New Zealand was Commended for its unique food-plus-fuel model which has supplied more than two million litres of renewably-sourced biodiesel last year alone.

Across all 2012 EECA Awards entrants, the value of energy saved or generated over the life of the projects is $600 million, and the total CO2 emissions reduced or avoided is 1.7 million tonnes.

The EECA Awards are presented in association with Principal Sponsors EcoInsulation, Fujitsu General New Zealand and Vector.

For more on the EECA Award winners see

2012 EECA Award winners - full list

Supreme Winner: Air New Zealand
Transport: Air New Zealand
Large Business: ASB
Small to Medium Business: Ecosystems and Whanganui PAK‘nSAVE
Energy Management: New Zealand Post Group
Innovation: Aurecon NZ and Dominion Salt
Renewable Energy: Golden Bay Cement
Public Sector: New Zealand Post Group / New Plymouth District Council
Community: Greater Wellington Regional Council
Outstanding Contribution: Jeanette Fitzsimons