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Today companies around the world are leading the way in green initiatives, adopting a wide range of admirable, in-house sustainability practices such as ambitious recycling programs and the installation of low-energy systems, in addition to financing external green projects of which they want to be a part. In many cases, they are motivated by cost savings and of course, a desire to protect our planet by reducing their carbon footprint. In Lebanon today, many banks and leading companies are actively engaged in green corporate social responsibility programs.

Here we look at Middle East Airlines

Mohamad El-Hout was appointed Chairman of Middle East Airlines, the national flag-carrier of Lebanon in 1998. Since then, the company has been on a steady path of success, putting an end to two decades of losses, restoring its airline profitability, and undergoing a rigorous restructuring and developmental phase. MEA currently retains one of the world’s youngest fleets and aims to fly profitably and invest wisely. Besides having done a great job as far as turning the company around, El-Hout is committed to the notion of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). He says, “We are committed to the principles of social responsibility, recognizing our obligation to give back in multiple ways to the society in which we are embedded.” He adds: “The airline is equally committed to giving back to society in various forms and guises. Building on MEA’s profound history and legacy, and its existing CSR and philanthropic activities, we have managed to craft and propose a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Strategy.” El-Hout regards protecting the environment as a key element of CSR. “Middle East Airlines will always be ready to launch new initiatives to support the environment and every sector that brightens the image of our beautiful country,” he says.

Preserving the environment

El-Hout says: “We are committed to designing and implementing innovative programs and initiatives to reduce our impact on the environment and ultimately contributing to a more sustainable future for the next generations. We view this investment in environmental stewardship as a tremendous opportunity to meet our strategic objectives of flying profitably and investing wisely. Over the past few years, we have saved millions of dollars and avoided significant amounts of emissions and waste, in addition to utilities and waste reduction initiatives.”

Fuel efficiency

El-Hout says: “We are dedicated to balancing between aviation and our external environment and ensuring fuel efficiency. Mitigating the environmental impact of aviation is achieved through an ongoing investment in fleet modernization using new engine options, which aim to reduce fuel consumption through flight operations by optimizing our flight profiles, including speed and altitude.”

Since 2010, MEA has implemented a program with operational procedures to reduce emissions. These operational procedures directly reduce the amount of fuel consumed and include initiatives such as:

• Using external power units instead of APU or using single-engine taxis
• Optimizing the routes to all destinations and flying the shortest paths • Reducing unnecessary weight on board • Introducing paperless cockpit, engine washing, and installing comfortable low- profile seats that weigh less

Recent additions to MEA’s fleet consist of the Airbus A320neo family of aircraft, considered as the world’s most fuel- efficient aircraft. The A320neo family of aircraft delivers up to 15 percent in fuel savings, which is equivalent to 1.4 million liters of fuel, saving 3,600 tons of C02 per aircraft per year. The engines that MEA has recently selected – Rolls- Royce Trent 700 – deliver the best performance in terms of fuel burn, emissions and noise compliance.

Waste reduction

The cabin uses durable and environmentally responsible products to reduce waste and create weight savings on board aircraft, while enhancing onboard comfort.

Reforestation

In an effort to preserve the environment and increase green areas, and in celebration of its 70th anniversary, MEA launched an initiative to plant 70 cedar trees in the reserves of the Shouf, Tannourine, Ehden, Becharri, and Jej. The newly planted area within the Shouf Cedar Reserve was named “MEA’s Cedar Forest.” MEA also aims to continue this initiative by planting 7,000 cedars and 7,000 local trees during the fall of 2016.

Green building

MEA is in the process of developing its first green building for MEA’s head office. This building is going to be built while taking sustainability issues into consideration, including waste minimization, and water and energy conservation. Some of the main features

of this building include water efficiency, energy conservation, materials recycling and resource efficiency, and indoor environmental quality.

Blue Gold project

El Hout says: “In line with our environmental responsibility, we are the main sponsor of the Blue Gold project – a national five-year water plan optimizing the Lebanese government’s water strategy. Through this project, we aim to achieve various environmental, economic, and developmental goals including: increasing water availability and quality throughout Lebanon, providing job opportunities, boosting the economy, and sustaining Lebanon’s natural resources.”

Future plans regarding the environment
– Developing a recycling initiative to be implemented both in the air and on the ground:
– Involving the crew in on-board waste segregation.
– Measuring carbon emissions (CO2) and highlighting fuel optimization.
– Developing a fuel savings plan in collaboration with the environmental consultant and also in line with the new flight-planning scheme.
– Introducing new sustainable products on board.
– Providing customers with the option of offsetting their carbon emissions through CO2 emissions calculators available on the website.