Etihad Airways’ ads claiming “sustainable aviation” banned in UK

Etihad Airways’ ads claiming “sustainable aviation” banned in UK

Advertisements being run by Etihad Airways’ promoting its ‘sustainable aviation’, have been banned in the UK.

The ruling comes just weeks after a similar complaint was made about the airline in Australia.

Today’s ruling from the UK Advertising Standards Authority related to two advertisements featured on Facebook.

“We understand the impact flying has on the environment. That’s why we are taking a louder, bolder approach to sustainable aviation,” text in the ad read.

An accompanying video showed an Etihad plane flying.

Then on-screen text stated, “With Etihad you’ll earn Etihad Guest Miles …” above an image of a card with a plant coming out of it. The card had the text, “ETIHAD GUEST CONSCIOUS CHOICES”.

An image of the world appeared, above on-screen text that said, “… every time you make a Conscious Choice for the planet”.

An image of the world was shown quickly passing by.

On-screen text said, “Environmental Airline of the Year for 2022 in the Airline Excellence Awards”.

This was beneath an image of a golden rosette with the text in the middle which said, “Airline Ratings ENVIRONMENTAL AIRLINE OF THE YEAR ETIHAD AIRWAYS 2022”.

The second ad featured the same text as the first.

An accompanying video showed an Etihad plane in flight. On-screen text said, “At Etihad, we are cutting back …”.

Then an image of a tray and cutlery was shown. On-screen text in the middle of the tray said, “… on single-use plastics … and are flying the most modern and efficient planes.

Flights with a smaller footprint”.

The same golden rosette was shown along with the information about the airline’s award winning environmental efforts.

The ASA challenged whether the ads were misleading, because they exaggerated the environmental benefits of flying with Etihad:

In response, Etihad Airways stated that the claim “sustainable aviation” in both ads were not intended to be understood as an absolute solution to the environmental impact from aviation and they did not accept that they would be interpreted in that way.

In contrast they said the claim would be widely understood as a long-term and multi-faceted process, in which Etihad had included an aspiration to reach “net zero” carbon emissions by 2050.

They said “sustainable aviation” had been a widely used and publicised term in the aviation industry for a number of years and was used by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

Etihad said they had also achieved a number of awards which evidenced their “louder, bolder approach to sustainable aviation”.

The airline has been told not Co2 do it again. (ASA)

Those included a stage two certification from International Air Transport Association (IATA) Environment Assessment Programme, a bronze EcoVadis rating, the “Best Airline For Sustainability” from American Business Traveller, a 2022 sustainability award by Nat Geo Traveller China, an “Environmental Sustainability Innovation of the Year” award from CAPA and environmental airline of the year 2022 in the Airline Ratings awards.

The advertising code required that absolute environmental claims must be supported by a high level of substantiation.

The decision from the ASA said, both ads claimed Etihad “understood the impact flying had on the environment”, and said they were “taking a louder, bolder approach to sustainable aviation”.

However, it gave no further context or explanation as to how “sustainable aviation” was being achieved.

The ASA acknowledged Etihad’s comments that the claim “sustainable aviation” would be understood, especially in the aviation industry, as a long-term, multifaceted goal, which included their aspiration to reach “net zero” carbon emissions by 2050.

However, it noted that the ads were aimed at the general public and not specifically at those in the airline industry and that neither ad mentioned Etihad’s desire to be “net-zero” by 2050 or positioned the claim “sustainable aviation” as a long-term aspiration.

The ASA concluded the claim exaggerated the impact that flying with Etihad would have on the environment and the ads breached the Code.

Etihad Airways was told to ensure that their ads did not give a misleading impression of the impact caused by travelling with the airline and that robust substantiation was held to support them.

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