Wet-lease carrier Hi Fly ran a trial passenger flight this week with no single-use plastic items on board.

The ‘plastics-free’ trial, involving four flights by Hi Fly’s wide-body Airbus A340, 9H-SUN, began on December 26, when it took off from Lisbon on its way to Natal in Brazil.

The flight then flew back to Lisbon and the return flights will run next week. Over 700 passengers will take part in the trial.

Hi Fly wants to be the world’s first ‘plastics-free’ airline by the end of 2019.

Hi Fly President, Paulo Mirpuri, said: “This historic Hi Fly flight, without any single-use plastic items on board, underlines our commitment to making Hi Fly the world’s first ‘plastics-free’ airline within 12 months. We take that commitment very seriously.”

He added: “We are obviously excited and delighted that Hi Fly will be the first airline to attempt such a feat.”

Reducing plastic

According to Hi Fly, the test flights will prevent the use of around 350kg of single-use, virtually indestructible plastics.

Mirpuri said: “Over 100,000 flights take off each day around the world and, last year, commercial aircraft carried nearly four billion passengers. This number is expected to double again in less than 20 years. So, the potential to make a difference here is clearly enormous.”

“The potential to make a difference here is clearly enormous.”

The test flights are being used to help Hi Fly trial substitute items it has developed. Some of the single-use plastic items that have been replaced include: cups, spoons, salt and pepper shakers, sick bags, packaging for bedding, dishes, individual butter pots, soft drink bottles and toothbrushes.

The innovations presented to passengers on the flight by Hi Fly included: bamboo cutlery, an array of paper packaging and compostable containers.

Mirpuri commented: “We know we may encounter some initial teething problems, but we are confident of addressing these over the coming months.

“We know, too, from the feedback we have received from client airlines and passengers, that it’s the right thing for the airline to be doing.”

Making a difference

Pedro Ramos, the Director-General of Tour operator Alto Astral, the company which chartered the flights between Lisbon and Brazil, said: “Everyone at Alto Astral is excited to be involved in this adventure and we believe that future generations will thank those of us who have been prepared to stand up to try to make a difference now.

“Hi Fly has long been the leader in the field of corporate environmental responsibility and sustainability, and they have rightly identified, as a key objective, the early elimination of plastics pollution. It’s been great for us to see how, in practical terms, they have gone about replacing so much in order to kick-start this elimination process.”

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