KEY POINTS

  • Air travel represents 2% of global carbon emissions
  • Delta said emissions from its planes represent 98% of the company's carbon footprint
  • Delta said it would pursue efficiencies, invest in research and share its findings with other airlines

Delta announced Friday it would become the first carbon neutral airline, unveiling a 10-year, $1 billion program to mitigate emissions and advance clean air travel technologies.

The Atlanta-based carrier also announced a $1.6 billion profit sharing package for employees.

“There is no substitute for the power that travel has to connect people, which our world needs today more than ever before. As we connect customers around the globe, it is our responsibility to deliver on our promise to bring people together and ensure the utmost care for our environment,” CEO Ed Bastian said in a press release. “The time is now to accelerate our investments and establish an ambitious commitment that the entire Delta team will deliver.”

Delta (DAL) noted the air travel industry contributes 2% of global carbon dioxide emissions. The company noted that 98% of its carbon footprint comes from aircraft emissions.

Delta said it would pursue efficiencies that reduce jet fuel consumption by investing in new aircraft, improving flight operations, reducing weight and increasing the development and use of sustainable fuels. It also pledged to invest in programs to reduce carbon emissions including through forest and wetland restoration, grassland conservation, marine and soil capture and other negative emissions technologies.

The third prong of Delta’s plan is to build coalitions with its 90,000 employees, suppliers, global partners, customers, industry colleagues, investors and other stakeholders to advance its carbon reduction goals.

“When customers choose to fly Delta, they should feel they’re making a statement about taking care of our planet,” Bastian said. “Our commitment to carbon neutrality means flying with Delta represents far more than a great travel experience – it’s about joining arms to create a better world.”

In announcing its sixth straight annual more than $1 billion profit sharing package, Bastian said Delta would be “nothing without our 90,000 people worldwide.” In the past five years, Delta has paid out more than $6.5 billion in profits to employees.