Etihad Airways Sustainability Ads Banned in the UK

The UK's Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned a "sustainable aviation" ad campaign by Etihad Airways.



April 12, 2023

DALLAS – The UK advertising watchdog has banned an ad campaign by Gulf carrier Etihad Airways (EY) that claimed to promote "sustainable aviation" as it was found to be ambiguous regarding the environmental impact of flying.

EY, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), recently posted two Facebook ads promoting its environmentally-friendly practices as part of its comprehensive marketing strategy.

The advertisements, which featured plants and the Earth, looked at the environmental impact of flying and highlighted the airline's "louder, bolder approach to sustainable aviation." The ads encouraged people to choose EY as a "conscious choice for the planet" and text proclaiming the airline as the "Environmental Airline of the Year 2022," with initiatives such as reducing single-use plastic cutlery.

A Facebook ad showing Etihad 787s green credentials. Photo: Etihad.

Etihad Banned by ASA

An investigation was initiated by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) into the campaign launched by Etihad Airways. The concern was that the claims made exaggerated the environmental benefits of flying with the airline.

Etihad responded by stating that the promotion did not present sustainable aviation as an "absolute solution" to the environmental impact of flying. Instead, the airline acknowledged that it is a "long-term and multifaceted process" and aims to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

However, the ASA ruled that absolute environmental claims such as "sustainable aviation" must be supported by solid evidence. EY plans to restructure its fleet and develop sustainable aviation fuel production to reduce the environmental impact of its service. Despite taking some steps towards this, the ASA found that EY's claims of "sustainable aviation" were not substantiated and exaggerated the airline's impact on the environment.

Etihad A6-APB Airbus A380. Photo: Lorenzo Giacobbo/Airways

Crack Down

The UK advertising agency has been cracking down on misleading or unsubstantiated green claims made by firms, and EY is the latest brand to be called out.

In September 2021, the watchdog promised to take action against such claims. The ASA also banned the Lufthansa (LH) green initiative ad campaign and other companies, including Oatly, Lipton, Persil, Ryanair (FR), HSBC, Esso, and Shell, reported The Guardian.

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Feature Image: Etihad Airways Boeing 787-10, Greenliner Livery (A6-BMH). Photo: Lorenzo Giacobbo/Airways.