Etihad accused of greenwashing by UK advertising authority 

Etihad Airways Boeing Dreamliner B787 aircraft takes off from the runway at airport
Etihad Aviation Group

The UK’s Advertising Standards Agency has ruled that a recent advertising campaign run by Etihad, which highlighted the airline’s environmental credentials, was misleading to consumers. 

While acknowledging that Etihad has taken various steps to reduce its environmental footprint, the Agency found that not enough information was being provided in the ads for consumers to fully assess the sustainability claims. The result, according to the regulatory body, is that the message being conveyed magnified the impact of these mitigation measures and gave a false impression of absolute ‘greenness’ which doesn’t correspond to the truth of the matter. 

“While we noted steps were being taken by Etihad to reduce the environmental impact of its service, we understood that there were currently no initiatives or commercially viable technologies in operation within the aviation industry which would adequately substantiate an absolute green claim such as ‘sustainable aviation’ as we considered consumers would interpret it in this context.” the ruling stated. It concluded by instructing Etihad to make sure that their ads “do not give a misleading impression of the impact caused by travelling with the airline and that robust substantiation was held to support them”. 

In response to Aerotime’s questions, Etihad issued the following statement regarding this ruling: 

“Etihad Airways is disappointed by ASA’s decision in relation to its advertising on Facebook in October 2022. Sustainability is a key priority for Etihad, which runs a comprehensive research and development programme to address aviation decarbonisation, working to reduce the impact of aviation on the environment by investing billions into its fleet of modern, fuel-efficient aircraft, research into sustainable aviation fuels, as well as carbon offsetting and reforestation through the Etihad Mangroves. (…) The airline will continue to take bold and innovative steps including partnering with aircraft and engine manufacturers, sustainable fuel suppliers, academia and innovators to make flying more sustainable than it would be without such steps.” 

This is not the first time that the Advertising Standards Agency has taken issue with airlines advertising their green credentials.  

In March 2023 the advertising regulator already admonished German carrier Lufthansa in a similar case, finding that one of Lufthansa’s advertising campaigns had been misleading customers with its environmental claims. 

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