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Austrian Airlines Cited for Using Misleading Sustainable Fuel Ads

The airline's advertisements falsely claimed Vienna to Venice flights used 100 percent sustainable aviation fuel.

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Photo: Yuichi Yamazaki (iStock by Getty Images)

With the steadily worsening state of the planet’s climate, many people are starting to consider their impact on the environment in their day-to-day lives and purchasing decisions. Countless businesses seeing this trend or adhering to new regulations are beginning to promote their transitions to environmentally sustainable or carbon-neutral operations. However, it wouldn’t be entirely surprising to hear that a few companies are overstating their positive impact. Austrian Airlines has come under fire for misleading consumers about its use of sustainable fuel.

The Austrian Advertising Council ruled that a recent ad campaign by Austrian Airlines was misleading, as reported by Simple Flying. The campaign promoted 100-percent sustainable fuel flights between the Austrian capital of Vienna and Venice in Italy. The flights were paired with train tickets to Vienna Airport and free admission to the Biennale cultural exhibition in Vienna.


The misleading portion of the ad was the statement that flights would use 100-percent sustainable aviation fuel. It isn’t currently possible to operate a commercial airliner on 100-percent sustainable aviation fuel. The world’s major aviation regulatory bodies, including the Federal Aviation Administration, mandate that current commercial aircraft can only use at most 50 percent sustainable fuel in a blend with conventional Jet A-1 fuel.


The Austrian Advertising Council’s decision stated:

“In times when sustainability and climate protection are given special attention by the population, transparent, clear and sensitive communication is particularly needed. Since the subject could be misleading with regard to climate-neutral flying, but is not (yet) possible, a more sensitive design and, above all, more precise formulation regarding the advertising subject is recommended.”

Austrian Airlines, a Lufthansa Group airline, stated in its defense that ticket purchases would contribute to the airline’s investment in sustainable aviation fuel as a direct offset for the conventional fuel necessary for the flight. The carrier also said that it will be more sensitive when advertising going forward and that Lufthansa Group offers options to individual passengers to make their flights carbon-neutral.

It’s good that businesses are being held to account for claiming laurels in sustainability that they have yet actually to earn. No matter on what topic claims may be made misleading advertising will always be misleading advertising.