Hi Fly - pioneering zero plastic flights

Posted on 28 May 2019.

A first: in December 2018, the Portuguese airline made four commercial flights between Portugal and Brazil with no single-use plastic on board. Hi Fly announced it is extending this practice by the end of 2019.

The four Portugal-Brazil flights avoided the use of 350 kg of single-use plastic.

Plastic waste, and in particular single-use packaging, is highly damaging for the planet. In March 2019, the non-governmental organization WWF published a study on the consequences of this pollution. It concludes that in 2016 (the most recent data), more than 310 million metric tons of plastic waste was produced worldwide. Not treated or recycled, one third is found in nature where it pollutes soils, oceans and rivers.

The NGO is particularly worried that this pollution is set to double in the oceans by 2030. "These plastics pollute nature and endanger wildlife and natural systems. They enter the food we eat and the air we breathe," says the WWF.
In this context, an increasing number of companies are taking action – for example the Portuguese airline Hi Fly. In December 2018, it made four flights between Portugal and Brazil with no single-use plastics on board. A first in the sector.
Cutlery, glasses, toothbrushes, packaging... all have been replaced by sustainable versions made of bamboo, recycled paper or compostable materials. They were distributed to the 700 airline passengers.
"We can no longer ignore the consequences of plastic pollution on ecosystems, as well as on human health", stated the airline’s CEO, Paulo Mirpuri.  "This historic flight (...) marks our commitment to make Hi Fly the world's first plastic-free airline within the next twelve months."
According to Hi Fly, these four flights avoided the use of 350 kg of disposable plastic. "World-wide over 100,000 planes take off every day. Last year, nearly 4 billion passengers took commercial flights. The number is expected to double in under twenty years. There is clearly a huge opportunity to make a difference," said Paulo Mirpuri.
Hi Fly hopes to extend this practice by the end of 2019, becoming the world's first zero-use plastic airline. And maybe it will inspire others. Ryanair, Alaska Airlines and Air New Zealand have said they would like to reduce the use of plastic on their airlines.