Aviation services giant John Menzies sets goal to turn green by 200th anniversary

Edinburgh-headquartered aviation services group John Menzies has set a goal of making 100 per cent of its operations carbon neutral by the company’s 200-year anniversary in 2033.

The firm – one of Scotland’s oldest – said it believed it was the first aviation services provider to make this “ground-breaking” commitment to carbon neutrality.

To achieve its green targets, the group will focus on investing in electric ground support equipment, reducing emissions through identifying operational efficiencies and balancing remaining emissions with carbon offsetting initiatives.

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The firm has already brought in electric belt loaders and baggage tractors in a number of airport locations around the world.

The Scottish-headquartered aviation business operates at 198 airports in 34 countries.

Philipp Joeinig, chief executive and chairman of Menzies Aviation, said: “Menzies is a business that has constantly adapted and what better way to mark our 200-year anniversary in 2033 than to celebrate our next era of environmental sustainability by achieving carbon neutrality.

“As flight volumes recover we see an opportunity to rebuild the aviation industry to be more sustainable, and we will be taking advantage of this to promote greener operations across our entire business.

“With our sustainability strategy and programme now in place, we have clearly defined targets and supporting action plans to help realise them, however it is critical that we build relationships across the aviation ecosystem, from trade bodies to suppliers, to ensure that we can collectively remove barriers to green innovation and adoption.”

The aviation business operates at 198 airports in 34 countries, supported by a global team of 23,000 workers.

In 2020, Menzies Aviation handled half a million “aircraft turns”, 1.2 million tonnes of cargo and fuelled 1.9 million turnarounds. Airline customers include Air France-KLM, EasyJet, British Airways-owner IAG and United Airlines.

John Menzies started out in 1833 when its eponymous founder opened a bookshop at 61 Princes Street, Edinburgh, which was to become the only wholesale bookseller north of the Border. The newspaper and magazine distribution business was spun out in 2018, creating Menzies Distribution, and leaving the rest of the firm to focus on providing aviation services.

Last month, John Menzies stressed its optimism about delivering sustainable growth after swinging to a £120.5 million pre-tax loss in 2020, dragged by the headwinds of travel restrictions imposed due to the pandemic. The loss contrasts with a £17.3m pre-tax profit in 2019.

It said it came amid a 49 per cent year-on-year reduction in flight volumes in ground handling and fuel services.

Revenues came in at £824.2m, down from £1.3 billion – but bosses said the impact was partly offset by “significant” cost management and global government support schemes, limiting the underlying operating loss to £18.5m before exceptional costs. Some £30m of fixed costs were removed, of which two-thirds is permanent.

Exceptional costs came to £70.2m, which the firm said primarily reflected the costs of reshaping its cost base, one-off costs associated with refinancing, asset write-downs and the resolution of historical claims.

Joeinig told investors: “The Covid-19 pandemic has brought about unprecedented challenges to our business as the effects on travel continued to have a significant impact on our global operations.”

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