Ads from major airlines, including Air France, Lufthansa and Etihad, have been banned by the British Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) due to concerns about misleading consumers regarding the environmental impact of their services.
The ads, displayed on Google in July, asserted that Air France was "committed to protecting the environment" and encouraged consumers to "travel better and sustainably."
Lufthansa suggested that its customers could "fly more sustainably," while Etihad's ad claimed to include "Environmental Advocacy."
Due to this, the ASA looked into all three ads, concerned they gave a wrong idea about the airlines' environmental efforts.
The watchdog highlighted the significant environmental impact of air travel, noting a lack of viable technologies in the aviation industry to support absolute green claims.
They concluded Air France's assertions were misleading due to a lack of evidence for environmental protection efforts.
While recognizing Lufthansa's Green Fares option might reduce environmental impacts, the ASA found the basis for the "Fly more sustainably" claim unclear.
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Airlines Defend Their Claims
Lufthansa defended its "Fly more sustainably" claim, explaining it referred to its "Green Fares" option, allowing passengers to reduce 20% of flight-related CO2 emissions through sustainable aviation fuel, offsetting the remaining 80% with contributions to climate protection projects.
Additionally, the company agreed to remove the sentence from future ads.
Etihad has removed references to "Environmental Advocacy" from its paid Google search ads in the U.K. upon notification of the complaint.
"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," a spokesperson said.
The ASA welcomed this decision but highlighted the absence of evidence supporting Etihad's environmental advocacy.
Although its removal of "Environmental Advocacy" was praised, the ASA ruled the ad breached the Code due to insufficient evidence of environmental impact.
Meanwhile, Air France didn't give a "substantive response" during the ASA's investigations.
The ASA ordered the three ads will not reappear in the media.