Our Change is in the Air (CIITA) sustainability programme covers our big environmental and community investment priorities - from fuel efficiency and our award-winning sustainable fuels programme, to energy, waste and water savings, and our exciting charity partnership with Free the Children. We’re communicating these activities to our passengers more and more, but we’re also keen for them to actually experience sustainability onboard - from recycled amenity kit bags, to Fairtrade hot drinks and lighter weight food & drink containers (for more information see our latest CIITA report at www.virgin-atlantic.com/changeisintheair).
We’re now delighted to announce a world-first, pioneering partnership with the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA), which will see all our worldwide caterers being assessed against a consistent set of wide ranging criteria, to improve the sustainability profile of our onboard food and drink.
The SRA benchmarks caterers in the three broad areas of product, planet and people, before giving them a ‘star rating’ - described by the Sunday Times as “the Michelin stars of sustainability”. They work with more than 1,000 restaurants around the UK and last year our in-flight services team partnered with them to adapt the methodology for the airline industry for the very first time.
Our passengers are increasingly keen to know that the food we serve is responsibly sourced. We hope this new partnership will set a new bar for airline food quality and eventually see the SRA’s assessments being standard practice throughout the travel industry.
As part of our Change is in the Air sustainability programme, by the end of 2013 the scheme will have been rolled out across our international markets, so that all our caterers worldwide will be SRA rated and be working to produce the most sustainable in-flight meals. We’ve already used the new criteria as part of the bid evaluation for a new service in Lagos.
Reuben Arnold, Virgin Atlantic Director of Customer Experience, said:
“We continue to be an industry leading airline on sustainability, driving solutions for the rest of aviation to share. Our adventurous spirit means we’re not afraid to push boundaries in following our sustainability agenda which is why we approached the Sustainable Restaurant Association to work together on this project.
“Value for money and quality of product are of course hugely important factors, but our passengers now rightly demand that we look beyond that and ensure we are making the most sustainable choices. The SRA ratings will allow us to understand how we and our global suppliers are performing on this front, and how to work closely together to drive improvements.”
Mark Linehan, managing director of the SRA, said:
“Our sustainability rating is now regarded as the industry standard for restaurants. We applaud Virgin Atlantic for taking the lead and look forward to working with them and other airlines to identify and manage the unique sustainability challenges posed by inflight catering."