Bigger and bolder: SkyTeam announces winners of The Sustainable Flight Challenge 2023

  • Challenge celebrates first SAF flight from Africa, greater collaboration, reduced emissions and less waste
  • Innovations shared industry-wide to help reshape the future of aviation

ATLANTA – 4 October 2023: The seven winners of The Sustainable Flight Challenge, the industry-first sustainability initiative launched by global airline alliance, SkyTeam, have been announced at an awards event held at
the Delta Flight Museum in Atlanta. 

Launched in 2022, The Sustainable Flight Challenge (TSFC) harnesses the power of friendly competition to spark new innovations to help reduce air travel’s footprint. This year, 22 airlines operated a total of 72 flights – 50 more than in 2022 – and submitted more than 350 new ideas that will be shared across the industry. Overall, this year’s TSFC resulted in an average improvement of 19% in CO2 intensity compared to the same flights operated the previous month.  

“Alliances were built on cooperation and SkyTeam’s Sustainable Flight Challenge demonstrates how working together beyond the traditional realms of network and customer service can help reduce aviation’s impact. The participating airlines have sparked hundreds of new solutions and ways of working that have the potential to bring about positive action and drive wider industry change while we await game-changing technology and greater availability of sustainable aviation fuels.”


Patrick Roux

CEO, SkyTeam

Award submissions were evaluated by a diverse jury of international aviation and sustainability experts who decided the winners of the 25 subcategories and seven overall awards. The winners are:

  • Best Innovation – Kenya Airways
    Kenya Airways played a leading role in pioneering the use of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) in Africa by developing new supply chains using local feedstocks and production plants and engaging with stakeholders to operate the first international flight using SAF in Africa. Through its TSFC endeavors, Kenya Airways has helped pave the way for wider SAF availability and use in Africa, becoming a leader in African sustainable aviation.

  • Best Adoption – KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
    KLM impressed the judges by being the airline with the most solutions adopted by other airlines. Sharing knowledge and expertise is fundamental to The Challenge, and the airline showed a proactive commitment to uploading its solutions onto the shared TSFC platform for other airlines to implement as part of their own sustainability efforts.

  • Best Collaboration – Air France
    Air France’s OLGA (Holistic Green Airport) project wowed the judges due to the breadth of the partnerships established across nine workstreams. These comprised 41 partners and 17 third parties including airports, airlines, aeronautics experts, public authorities, researchers and start-ups across Europe. The OLGA project aims to improve aviation’s environmental impact by drawing on complementary resources and skills of each stakeholder, knowledge and best practice exchange, and by facilitating the large-scale implementation of environmental solutions.

  • Lowest CO2 Emissions – TAROM
    A high payload fraction through passenger load factor and belly cargo on both legs of the airline’s Bucharest to Madrid routing, gave TAROM the advantage through a more efficient operation.

  • Greatest CO2 Reduction – China Eastern
    China Eastern increased its payload fraction on its short- and medium-haul flights it operated as part of The Challenge, greatly reducing emissions for its TSFC flights compared to its baseline for the same flights operated the previous month.

  • Best In-flight Waste Management – KLM Cityhopper
    In a category that has great potential to make flying more sustainable by reducing catering and cleaning waste, KLM Cityhopper went above and beyond. The airline reduced waste on both its flights to such an extent that a total of only 12kg was generated for the 192 passengers on board – a mere 62 grams per person. The IATA industry average is 1.43kg of waste per passenger.  

  • Lowest CO2 Emissions Ground Operations – Air Europa
    Air Europa demonstrated how it is possible to make ground operations more sustainable. Nearly half of the airline’s ground support equipment used for the challenge was electric, including their pushback, enabling the airline to generate the lowest CO2 emissions per passenger on its Madrid-Amsterdam round-trip flights. 

Winners of the 25 subcategory awards were unveiled last month.

Read more about The Sustainable Flight Challenge


About SkyTeam:
SkyTeam is dedicated to powering a seamless, more responsible customer journey with all members working together to connect millions of passengers across and extensive global network of 1,050+ destinations. The members are Aeroflot (suspended), Aerolíneas Argentinas, Aeromexico, Air France, China Airlines, China Eastern, Czech Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Garuda Indonesia, ITA Airways, Kenya Airways, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Korean Air, Middle East Airlines, Saudia, TAROM, Vietnam Airlines, Virgin Atlantic and XiamenAir.

About The Sustainable Flight Challenge:
The Sustainable Flight Challenge (TSFC) exists to challenge the aviation industry by stimulating and accelerating innovation towards a more sustainable future. TSFC was first presented in 2022 by SkyTeam, a leading airline alliance with member carriers around the world. This year’s Challenge took place between 15 May – 28 May 2023 in which 22 participating airlines implemented their most sustainable solutions, competing for awards in 32 categories. This Challenge - including flight and ground operations - is another step in the aviation industry’s path towards a more sustainable future.