aviation: Greenwashing: AUA suffers defeat at the Korneuburg regional court



Austrian Airlines suffered a greenwashing defeat before the Korneuburg regional court. The Association for Consumer Information sued the Lufthansa subsidiary for misleading advertising and prevailed in court.

Specifically, it concerns an advertising statement in connection with a flight to Venice. The carrier advertised with the following words, among other things: “Flying to the Biennale in a CO2-neutral way?” Not art for us! 100% SAF”. The highlighted part was supplemented by the information: “Together with Vienna Airport and Venezia Airport, we will take you to the Biennale Arte in Venice with sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).”

For physical or chemical reasons, it is completely impossible for no carbon dioxide emissions to occur even when using SAF. It is a combustion process and due to the “ingredients” of aviation fuel, regardless of whether conventional or SAF, carbon dioxide is created as a “waste product”. Furthermore, it is currently not possible to operate the engines with 100 percent SAF because the necessary approvals from the manufacturers are not available. The only thing that is currently common and approved is admixture.

For this reason, Austrian Airlines naturally did not draw attention to this, but instead advertised on its own homepage, on social media platforms and in media releases how environmentally friendly and climate-neutral the flight in question should not be. However, the Korneuburg Regional Court is of the opinion that this was misleading advertising.

The Association for Consumer Information writes, among other things: “Companies have long recognized that products and services can be easily marketed with information about environmental compatibility and sustainability.” However, the advertised environmental benefits of a product do not always stand up to scrutiny. As part of its greenwashing check, the VKI has been regularly examining green promises made by companies, brands and products since 2021. Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) is currently mixed with conventional kerosene as a so-called drop-in fuel. The reason for this is that the technical standards provide for maximum admixture limits that must not be exceeded. Currently, the maximum admixture proportion of SAF in fossil kerosene is a maximum of 5 percent according to ASTM D1655.”

However, Austrian Airlines advertised 100% SAF use. “It is currently not technically possible to carry out flights in a CO2-neutral manner with 100 percent SAF,” explains Barbara Bauer, lawyer at VKI. According to VKI, Austrian Airlines charged a surcharge of more than 50 percent for the current SAF flight. This fall, according to information from the AUA, the respective personal fuel consumption for this flight will be calculated and the corresponding amount of SAF will be added to future flights.

The Korneuburg Regional Court upheld the VKI’s lawsuit and rated the advertising as misleading. It noted that it would have been possible and reasonable for the AUA to provide information about the use of SAF in a form that would have conveyed a clear picture to the addressees.

“In principle, we welcome all entrepreneurial efforts that serve to protect the environment,” says Barbara Bauer. “But advertising flights as CO2-neutral when this is not technically possible and it cannot even be ensured that sustainable aviation fuel is used in the specific flight is definitely going too far.” That the consumers are responsible for this dubious performance Having to pay a hefty surcharge is a special treat of this marketing strategy.”

The post Greenwashing: AUA concedes defeat before the Korneuburg regional court appeared first on Aviation.Direct.

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