Interview with Therese Forsström

March 26, 2024

Göteborg Landvetter and Malmö Airports, both operated by Swedavia, are among the world’s first ten pioneers to reach Level 5 in the Airport Carbon Accreditation programme. Can you share the key highlights of your journey to fulfil all the requirements of the new level and the strategic initiatives that enabled this trailblazing accomplishment?

Göteborg Landvetter and Malmö Airport are now two of the first ten airports in the world, and the only airports in Northern Europe, to receive the highest level of certification, something that Swedavia is very proud of. The increased ambition that this entails means that the entire ecosystem in the airport operations will eventually have Net Zero CO2e emissions, including Swedavia’s suppliers and partners. Both airports will work to ensure that the entire ecosystem in airport operations, including all goods and services procured, has Net Zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 at the latest.

To meet the requirement for Level 5 we formed a working group that met on a regular basis and developed an action plan that identified activities that needed to be processed, which we then followed up on regularly. We enjoyed the full support of Swedavia’s management and board as this is an important step in our climate transition as an airport operator as well as a strategic goal for Swedavia.

Swedavia’s airports, including Göteborg Landvetter and Malmö, have been operating fossil-free since 2020. How does Level 5 tie into and develop further the carbon management practices at these airports? What new elements did it bring?

As part of the certification, Swedavia will map and report all other emissions generated by operators at our airports in addition to emissions from our own operations. Individual action plans will also be developed in collaboration with the airports’ partners, which will set out clear environmental and climate requirements for any business that wishes to carry out operations at Swedavia’s airports. Swedavia’s goal is for all of the company’s airports to receive the highest level of Airport Carbon Accreditation certification, and for Stockholm Arlanda Airport to be certified during 2024.

Swedavia is currently a world leader in the development of climate-smart airports, and it is only natural that the next step in this is to both support and place demands on other partners in our value chain to promote their own transition and to encourage innovation and climate-smart solutions.

The journey to Level 5 accreditation demands a comprehensive strategy for managing both direct and indirect emissions. Could you outline your main initiatives targeting Scope 3 emissions? In what ways have Göteborg Landvetter and Malmö Airports worked with airlines, suppliers, and other partners to foster collective action towards emissions reduction?

After becoming fossil-free in our own operations at the end of 2020, Swedavia has taken the next step in the process towards our airports’ climate transition and launched an ambitious partnership plan with the aim that all airport partners’ operational activities will also become fossil-free by 2025. The new initiative represents an increase in ambition in the airports’ climate transition work and means that even the operations that are not conducted under Swedavia’s auspices must be fossil-free by the end of 2025 at all ten airports. The partnership plan means a natural and important increase in ambition towards our next goal, where Swedavia strives for all operational activities at our airports to be fossil-free. Nowadays, we collaborate with hundreds of different partners and will, through dialogue and joint efforts, further speed up the necessary climate transition work.

As part of the plan, we will sign individual action plans with the airports’ partners, such as ground handling and catering companies. Clear requirements around environment and climate will be set to be allowed to conduct activities at the airports. This applies, for example, to requirements for future investments in vehicles and other equipment and that these must be powered by fossil-free fuels. The focus will also be on reducing emissions from construction and maintenance work, such as runway repairs. Partners will also be encouraged to environmentally- and climate-friendly innovations.

Regarding your direct emissions could you share how you achieved and maintained a reduction of over 90% in Scope 1 and 2? What strategies or actions were pivotal in reaching this milestone?

Some key measures in Swedavia’s work to become fossil-free include renewable energy where all energy used to heat and cool the airports comes from energy sources such as wind and hydropower and the backup power supply has been replaced by hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO). Our machinery and equipment have been completely replaced by electric alternatives or ones that can run on renewable fuel and Swedavia’s vehicles have been switched to fossil-free gas, HVO and green electricity.

We have also replaced the fossil fuels previously used in firefighting exercises (including Jet A-1 and aviation gasoline) with renewable fuels. Biogas is used, amongst other, in the buses that run between the terminals and car parks, and the buses that transport passengers between the gates and aircraft.

What advice would you give to airports considering embarking on the journey to Level 5 of Airport Carbon Accreditation?

One of the most important aspects is inclusion and collaboration through the entire airport ecosystem, to include and involve internal stakeholders at an early stage and get everyone on board regarding the task ahead and what needs to be done. We found that by forming a working group with clearly defined roles within and clear objectives to be met, you can work together more easily and seamlessly with different parts of the certification process, across airport operations as a whole. Everyone must do their part and have a defined role, obviously that makes it easier. And, certainly, you need the support of management and have a timeframe defined that you strive to meet.

Looking ahead, what are your future plans both within Airport Carbon Accreditation and more broadly in terms of undertaking projects to further reduce the environmental impact of aviation?

Our aim is to future-proof air travel. Swedavia is currently a world leader in the development of climate-smart airports. We will continue in the same manner moving forward. Swedavia is also driving the development of sustainable air transport of the future, where air travel is part of a transport system with the least possible impact on the environment and which enables people to travel smoothly and efficiently to, from and within Sweden. Fossil fuels will be phased out. All ten of Swedavia’s airports are part of the Airport Carbon Accreditation certification system and besides Malmö and Landvetter who have reached Level 5, seven of our airports have reached Level 4+ , with Stockholm Arlanda Airport and Ronneby Airport set to be certified for Level 5 during 2024. Our ambition is that all our airports will be certified at the highest level by the end of 2027.

2024 also marks the fifth year in a row that Swedavia’s incentive programme for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) will be offered to airlines operating at our airports. Through the incentive programme, Swedavia helps to cover airlines’ refuelling costs when they use renewable aviation fuel at up to 50 per cent of the premium cost.  Since 2016, Swedavia has also procured sustainable aviation fuel equivalent to the fuel needed for its corporate travel annually, and since 2019, has coordinated with the public sector and the private sector regarding joint call-offs for SAF.

We are continuously developing our airports regarding electrification to meet future needs for electric flights and adaptation to fossil-free flying. Among other things, a new charging infrastructure for commercial electric aircraft will be built at Stockholm Arlanda Airport with construction starting in the autumn, and last summer Malmö Airport became a test center for the electric aircraft ES-30. The plane will be tested for taxiing and charging at the airport. In January, Swedavia, Airbus, Avinor, SAS and Vattenfall signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to work together to develop infrastructure for hydrogen aviation at airports in Sweden and Norway. The goal of the collaboration is to, through a preliminary study on hydrogen, develop a framework and review the conditions for a possible rollout of hydrogen-powered aviation in both countries.