Three Tiers of Sustainability

posted on 9th May 2022
Three Tiers of Sustainability

Specialist provider to the music industry Equinox Charter launched its Enhanced Sustainability Initiative in April, helping clients choose preferred operators based on professionally assessed sustainability criteria

Established in November 2021, Equinox Charter builds on its founders’ combined industry experience of more than 100 years to deliver specialist charter and medevac services. Launched alongside travel management company Equinox Travel, Equinox Charter is primarily dedicated to the music and entertainment industries, where agendas are demanding and requirements exact.
Equinox Charter aims to provide bespoke travel for bands, solo artists, agents, tour managers and film production companies, which could mean moving a single performer and one or two assistants between multiple gigs in several countries over the course of a long weekend, or an entire band and entourage between international tour dates. These people typically have complex needs, balancing the discretion and easy travel inherent to business aviation against the need to generate and manage publicity and PR for their work.
From the outset, Equinox Charter Managing Director Elliot Bottomley, and joint CEOs of Equinox (including Charter and Equinox Travel) Ian Patterson and Glen Duckworth, recognised that sustainability ought to be front and centre for any nascent charter organisation; it was therefore high on the company agenda. Since then, plans for a refined sustainability offer have matured and on 13 April 2022, the Equinox Enhanced Sustainability Initiative (EESI) was launched.

Three-tiered assessment
The scheme aims to help clients make informed operator choices and boost their own environmental, social and governance (ESG) credentials through a three-tiered assessment detailing operators’ flight operations and sustainability culture. Equinox’s Sustainable Flight Operations Consultant, Douglas Corbett performs the appraisals and manages the scheme. A business jet and airliner flying instructor with music industry experience, he is uniquely qualified to work closely with the company’s specialist travel team and aircraft operators.
And that’s important, because although the Lower Tier assessment is based on reviewing publicly available material, the Middle and Top Tiers involve Corbett visiting operators and reviewing their sustainability claims and credentials on site. “Everyone I’ve spoken to in the private jet world has been very open,” he reports. “They are taking the opportunity to learn from the airlines, where there are procedures the commercial carriers have been using for years to reduce fuel burn or save on materials that private jet operators haven’t seen.”
The operators are therefore on board with the process, yet Corbett is working on behalf of Equinox’s clients rather than them; any operator he finds is not meeting the required sustainability standards is likely to be eliminated from the client’s selection process. The fact that an operator has missed out is unfortunate; the idea they may continue missing out for the same reasons is even more so, in which case, does EESI feed back to unsuccessful operators?
“We’ll never push a client towards using an operator they don’t want to use,” Corbett says, “but where a company otherwise looks good, it’s in everybody’s interest to offer professional, accredited advice as to how they can step up and appeal more to clients.”
Right now, Corbett and Equinox are working hard to educate clients on what exactly aviation sustainability looks like and how it is achieved – Corbett calls it a long-term plan. Those clients generally have very little industry knowledge, but who exactly are they? “We have artists who want to talk to us directly about it, then management companies, tour managers and publicists. It’s important to our clients that they are flying sustainably, but also that they generate a robust sustainability narrative.”
Equinox Charter’s clients must fly, and they want to do it sustainably. Corbett and Equinox help ensure their messaging on the subject is accurate, helping them engage their audience and wider media interest effectively.
Are there lessons for the wider business and VIP aviation community? “Absolutely,” Corbett says. “It’s about showing business jets really aren’t so bad by explaining key points accessibly, through the right channels. We’re already helping our clients do that, should they choose an operator we suggest.” And that’s good for them, for Equinox, for the aviation industry – and, most importantly, the planet.


Equinox Enhanced Sustainability Initiative Assessment Tiers

Lower Tier: considers a combination of existing carbon mitigation culture, ESG efforts, published technical data and other available third-party information

Middle Tier: includes direct contact with the operator, gathering information against a 100-point matrix and recording technical and non-technical flight operations initiatives

Top Tier: involves a deeper flight operations review with expert analysis and direct flight observations, sustainability line checks, and in-depth evaluation against criteria including culture, ground operations, airmanship and crew training