Inculcating green ways to balance carbon footprints

Airports Authority of India (AAI) is all set to implement policies and invest in technological innovation that will help in sustainable development and to engage in responsible activities safeguarding the environment. On the occasion of World Environment Day, AAI introspects

Fighting Global Warming

The aviation industry has been continuously mulling over its carbon emissions that exceed far more than any other mode of transport. As per the European Environment Agency figures where road transportation follows at 158 and rail travel is at 14, aviation sector emits 285 grams of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) per km travelled by a passenger.

International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) estimates that air transport is responsible for 2 per cent of global CO2 emissions. However, according to the Climate Action Network, aircraft also emits particles such as nitrogen oxides, which can trap heat at high altitude, pointing that the industry is responsible for a total 5 per cent of warming. The industry has committed to improve fuel efficacy by 1.5 per cent per year from 2009 to 2020 and stabilising its CO2 emissions in preparation for a 50 per cent reduction by 2050 compared to 2005.

Fulfilling commitments

The trade association of the world’s airlines, International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimates India and China alone will account for around 45 per cent of all additional passenger trips over the next two decades. With this huge surge in passengers footfall, it is expected of Indian Aviation to chart the future roads striking a perfect balance between rapid infrastructural development and environment management.

Contributing its part, Airports Authority of India (AAI) being the sole Air Navigation Service (ANS) provider and operator of airports across the country is consistently honouring the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by staying true to its commitment towards the reduction of GHGs (Green House Gases). AAI has instituted its Environment Policy reflecting the top management’s commitment to fulfil environment obligation. The policy is directed towards the reduction in Airport GHG emissions by implementing cost-effective carbon mitigation measures, creating green corridors and infrastructure and other environment management thereby proactively attending to the global need of safeguarding environment.

Implementation of environmental initiatives in Air Traffic Management Performance Based Navigation (PBN)

Trying to reduce fuel burn, AAI has implemented Performance Based Navigation (PBN) which includes continuous climb and descent operations. It allows aircraft to follow a flexible yet safe and optimum flight path delivering both environmental and economic benefits. Such measures are needed to improve the operational efficiency of aircraft operations as they reduce fuel burn further leading to a reduction in GHG Emission.

Departure slot management

Departure Slot Management results in improvement of on-time performance of airlines reducing departure congestion and queuing of aircrafts. Quick departure, efficient climb profile, availability of preferred flight levels, all these have contributed towards reduction in fuel burn and GHG emission.

Central Air Traffic Flow Management (CATFM)

CATFM helps manage air traffic flows (6 hours in advance) strategically in the Indian sky ensuring reduction in delays and holding, optimisation of capacity due to air traffic congestion. Implementation of CATFM by AAI accrues benefits in terms of reduced carbon footprint embarking on green environment concept fuel saving.

Controlling noise pollution

Committed to reduce the number of people exposed to noise due to aircraft movements, a mechanism is developed to measure and monitor noise level at all airports and in their vicinity. AAI has already initiated action for setting up of noise monitoring stations at three of its major Airports – Chennai International Airport, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport, Ahmedabad and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport, Kolkata.

Airport Collaborative Decision Making (ACDM)

It involves all stakeholders to achieve optimum utilization of airports, airspace and aircraft at Indian Airports. It helps save 14.9 mln kg fuel per annum, 47 mln kg reductions in carbon emission and helps reduce 1,241,000 minutes of taxi-time.

Flexible Use of Airspace (FUA)

An airspace of the nation is a finite asset. FUA permits civil flight through military airspace when not being utilized by the military, promoting the share of airspace on need basis by civil and military users. It results in dynamic flight planning, reduced fuel consumption and operating cost along with a consequent reduction in carbon footprint.

Creating Green Infrastructure

A major thrust of AAI has always been to create world-class and sustainable infrastructure development for the needs of the passengers. The yesteryears have witnessed effective regional connectivity growing amongst in tier-2 cities. This kind of development does leave some considerable impact on the environment, so Green initiative like Green Building infrastructure, self-sustenance in energy use, and almost zero waste disposal shows AAI’s commitment towards sustainable development.

AAI’s environmentally sustainable terminal buildings are designed and constructed as per the Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA) mandate. The key focus here is to adopt more and more green options in the selection of materials, procedures and equipment in projects as well as in operations and maintenance of the projects.

Water Management

Curtailing of the wastage of potable water, processing of waste water and reusing the treated water is the major steps taken by AAI. The Sewage Treatment Plants (STP) and Rain water harvesting are being provided by AAI along with an initiative on storm water management.

Solid Water Management

The plan is to promote the culture of avoiding solid waste generation and, where possible, extract value from remaining waste with the ultimate goal of sending zero waste to landfills. AAI has taken up an initiative to setup a comprehensive Solid Waste Management System in accordance with Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 and directives under Environment Protection Act, 1986 at six Airports namely Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport, Kolkata, Coimbatore International Airport, Trivandrum International Airport, Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport, Varanasi, Biju Patnaik International Airport, Bhubaneswar and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport, Ahmedabad in the first phase. The second phase will witness a solid waste management system getting established at 28 AAI airports where annual passenger traffic is one million and more.

Solar-powered projects

Withstanding the purpose of mitigating GHG emissions, rooftop/ ground mounted solar PV power plants have been successfully by AAI installed to generate Green Energy at 39 of its airports. The total installed capacity of solar generation as on date is 36MW and is committed for 68.70 MW by 2020-21.

Use of energy-efficient products

Emphasis has been made on the use of energy efficient chillers, motors and Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs) to reduce the energy consumption at airports without compromising the comfort level. LED light fittings are to be used in all the future projects as well as replacement of existing conventional type light fittings by energy efficient light fittings.

Continuous environmental quality monitoring

Another significant initiative is to develop Green Corridors along with National Highways leading to Airports. Initiative has also been taken to commission integrated online continuous environmental monitoring stations at some of the airports to check the environmental quality in and around the airports at regular intervals.

Positive Change

The rising passenger traffic needs an infrastructure that provides the best possible service to the flyers. However, it needs to be balanced against the impact air travel is having on the global environment with the increasing numbers of people. Noise and air pollution – both from aircraft and from airport ground operations poses as a major problem. The global aviation industry is currently working hard to increase the usage of fuel alternatives, those based on biomass which has the potential to reduce the aviation carbon emissions by up to 80 percent. AAI has already taken the brave step of testing a bio fuel-run aircraft. Private carrier Spicejet flew a Bombardier Q-400 turboprop aircraft on biofuel from Dehradun to New Delhi last year in August.

AAI is upbeat to invest in technology and innovation that will considerably change the future of energy consumption. The organization is committed to engage in responsible activities that will limit, as well as reduce their social, ethical, and environmental adverse impacts on society and the community.


Optimise building design to reduce conventional energy demand

Reduction in Heating & Cooling loads through an appropriate orientation of Terminal Building

External Shading

Double glazing façade

Insulated Roof

Natural Lights

Energy efficient equipment & lighting

Efficient use of water

Waste water treatment

Water recycle & reuse including rain water harvesting

Use of renewable energy

Energy audit & validation

Other efforts of AAI

Converting food waste into compost on the site.

Paper and plastic waste are being handed over to recyclers.

Used oil, E-waste and Bio-medical waste are being disposed-off to State Pollution Board.

Setting up of a paper recycling unit that converts paper waste collected from AAI offices for paper stationery products.

At present, AAI’s 35 Airport Terminals have been declared as 'Single-Use Plastic Free' through a third Party assessment by Quality Council of India (QCI). In phase- II, 20 Airports have been selected for making Airport Terminal 'Single-use plastic free'.

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