Alaska Air Group is a publicly listed company headquartered in the United States of America. In 2021 its revenue was USD 6.18 billion. The company is the sixth largest airline in North America, flying to 120 destinations throughout the continent.
Alaska Air has set a target to achieve net zero by 2040. However, the alignment of the targets with the company’s 1.5°C pathway could not be assessed because of the target’s undisclosed reliance on offsets. The use of offsets reduces the emphasis on direct action to decrease emissions. If Alaska Air’s targets relied on direct action only, then they would align with the company’s 1.5°C pathway. The company has not set intermediate targets that cover all business activities. Setting regularly spaced intermediate targets will incentivise near-term actions on longer-term goals.
Alaska Air has implemented board-level oversight of climate change and has one member on its board with climate expertise. Its incentives include a carbon intensity metric for all employees. For transparency, it could publish the portion of incentives related to this metric. Carbon reduction incentives should be a significant proportion of the total, at least 10%. Its transition plan is to modernise its fleet with the commitment to buy 145 new aircraft and to improve route efficiency using Flyway, an artificial intelligence system. However, to show that the company’s long-term plans align with a 1.5°C pathway, the company should publish details of its long-term objectives.
Alaska Air collaborates with skyNRG on the future production of sustainable aviation fuels. In 2020, the company partnered with Boeing to test 100% SAF on its ecoDemonstrator aircraft. It outlines the need to reduce the cost of SAF and increase the supply. The company set out a six-step plan detailing what is needed for SAFs to be successful in the industry. Despite this, Alaska Air has not made a commitment to transition to SAF or made a financial commitment to invest in the research and development of alternative fuels. To show its commitment to a low-carbon transition the company can publish more details of its investments in SAF.
Alaska Air Group receives a trend score of =. If the company were reassessed in the near future, its score would likely remain the same. The company is projected to exceed its carbon budget for the period between 2022 and 2036. It has committed to purchasing 145 new aircraft that are estimated to be 25% more efficient than the aircraft they are replacing. However, Alaska Air does not have a robust transition plan for the future. Its long-term strategy is limited to increasing the use of SAF, improving efficiency and developing technologies that are currently in the R&D phase.
Alaska Air has set a target to reach net zero by 2040. However, it will use offsets to achieve the targets. The company has not set short to medium-term emission reduction targets. It set a target to reduce ground service emissions by 50% by 2025. These are an insignificant portion, less than one per cent, of the company’s total emissions.
Alaska Air has committed to purchasing 145 new aircraft to improve energy efficiency. It aims to increase the SAF share of its fuel use but does not set clear targets for implementation. The company has not set out comprehensive plans to achieve its net-zero target.
Alaska Air has invested in ‘Flyways’ artificial intelligence software that helps optimise flight routes. This has led to 17.3 thousand tonnes of avoided emissions. The total scope 1 emissions were about 6 million tonnes in 2021. The company does not disclose its current spending on research and development into carbon removal and reduction technologies.
Alaska Air scope 1 emissions intensity increased by about 4% annually between 2017 and 2021. This is partly due to the impact of the COVID pandemic on the transport industry. However, between 2017 and 2019, the company’s emissions intensity also increased.
Alaska Air aims to be the most fuel-efficient domestic airline by 2025. The company’s recent emissions trends show little evidence of how it will achieve this. It has committed to buying more efficient aircraft but does not have an adequate plan for the increased use of SAFs in its operation.
No evidence was found of the company’s commitment to social dialogue or of the categories of stakeholders the company engages with on a just transition. Furthermore, no evidence was found to demonstrate the company’s ongoing social dialogue and meaningful engagement with affected stakeholders.
No evidence was found of the company undertaking low-carbon transition planning to mitigate the social impacts of the transition on workers, affected stakeholders and its business relationships. Additionally, no evidence was found to demonstrate the company’s engagement in social dialogue or engagement with stakeholders in its just transition planning.
The company discloses the actions it takes to support employment opportunities in Alaska through working with locally-owned businesses for services such as catering. It also discloses the measures it takes to ensure that these jobs embed equality of opportunity for women and vulnerable groups. In particular, it aims to increase the representation of Black, female and disabled employees, and it has revised its hiring and leadership development programmes to this aim. However, no evidence was found of the company committing to create and support access to green and decent jobs as part of the low-carbon transition. Furthermore, no relevant disclosure was found of the company’s assessment of employment dislocation risks.
No public commitment by the company was found stating its intention to reskill and upskill workers displaced by the transition to a low-carbon economy. Additionally, no evidence was found that the company reskills and upskills workers in a way that ensures gender balance and inclusion of vulnerable groups.
No relevant disclosure was found to show if the company identifies impacts of the low-carbon transition on social protection for workers and affected stakeholders, nor how it contributes to social protection. Additionally, no evidence was found that the company expects its business relationships to contribute to the social protection of their workers and affected stakeholders.
No relevant disclosure was found to show how the company identifies any misalignment of its lobbying activities with policies and regulations that support the just transition, nor of the measures it takes to address misalignment. Furthermore, no evidence was found that the company lobbies for policies and regulations for green and decent job creation; retention, education and reskilling; and social protection for workers.
While the company expects its business relationships to respect the ILO fundamental rights at work, no evidence was found of a company commitment to respect human rights and all of the ILO fundamental rights at work in its own operations. Furthermore, it can strengthen its disclosure on its human rights due diligence process and engagement with affected stakeholders. The company does, however, have a grievance mechanism available to workers and external stakeholders.
The company commits to respecting the health and safety of its workers and expects the same commitment of its business relationships. The company discloses that 36% of its board members are female and it discloses the gender of its workforce by employee category. However, no evidence was found of a company commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment in the broad sense. While the company discloses the proportion of its direct workforce covered by collective bargaining agreements, it can strengthen its disclosure on this subject, as well as on its living wage and working hours practices.
The company discloses its lobbying and political engagement policy. However, it discloses that it allows political contributions to be made. While the company includes anti-bribery and anti-corruption clauses in its contracts with business relationships, the company can strengthen disclosure on the prohibition of bribery and corruption in its own operations. Furthermore, the company can increase disclosure on its global tax strategy and protection of employees’ and customers’ personal data.