Japan Airlines’ Kiyoto Morioka is focused on the future of sustainable travel

The Senior Vice President – The Americas highlights the airline’s goals and the promising opportunities ahead

When you’re Senior Vice President – The Americas for Japan Airlines, business travel is par for the course. But wouldn’t it be great if you could get home in half the time on Overture?  Kiyoto Morioka thinks so.

In 2017, Boom and Japan Airlines formed a strategic partnership aimed at bringing supersonic travel back to passengers and doing so sustainably. Japan Airlines is aiming to achieve numerous Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly when it comes to Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), something Morioka finds to be a promising opportunity. We chatted at Boom’s inaugural Net Good Summit about his work and what excites him about the future of sustainable supersonic travel.

What is the single most important action a business can take to improve sustainability?

“I believe it is essential that companies ensure that there is strong internal awareness of targeted sustainability goals and initiatives even if some of the details may not be fully developed. When employees understand their company’s overarching missions, and they are able to get behind them, it will spark additional ideas and increase support across roles and departments.”

Is there an innovation you are excited about that is important to the future of sustainable travel?
In February 2021, JAL operated a flight that used eco-friendly SAF produced in Japan from recycled cotton clothing.

“Japan Airlines is aiming to achieve numerous Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and in 2020 we identified 22 actionable issues under four key pillars (environment, people, communities, governance), which are posted on our website. While all are important, I am personally excited about our progress in increasing the usage of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). JAL conducted its first successful SAF trial in 2009 – over a decade ago now – and we have had numerous additional trials since then on international and domestic flights. We aim to achieve net zero CO2 emissions by 2050 and replace 10% of our fuel load with SAF by 2030.  We also recently joined the newly-established “ACT FOR SKY” where we are partnering with industry peers to increase use of SAF produced in Japan.”

What are the most promising opportunities to reduce the carbon footprint of the travel industry?
JAL Royal Catering loads meals onto a JAL aircraft.

“There are many opportunities to reduce the carbon footprint within the airline industry and Japan Airlines is taking a variety of initiatives across our organization – with many efforts already showing significant results.

For example, by adjusting take-off and landing patterns, we successfully reduced 157,000 tons of CO2 in 2019. And onboard, we are carefully addressing resource usage to ensure that there is minimum food waste by promoting the 4Rs (refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle).”

JAL has introduced new inflight meals, called “RED à table,” with the theme of “Inflight meals for the future” to achieve the SDGs goals.
Supersonic travel means less time in the air and more time on the ground, where it matters most. What will you do with the time you get back from supersonic flight?

“The benefit of shorter flying times with supersonic travel will be certainly appreciated by many travelers.  I personally look forward to a quicker return flight home after a long-haul business trip.”

Bonus question: What is the first place you would visit on Overture?

“I have had the fortune of traveling to many incredible places around the world during my airline career, which makes this question particularly difficult to answer. To take an Overture flight to any international destination and arrive in approximately half the time it takes today is going to be incredible.”

Main image photo credit: Tadayuki Yoshikawa


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