China Eastern Airlines continues to shoulder corporate social responsibilities and add value in the new era.
China Eastern Airlines gives assistance to children’s education in Cangyuan and Shuangjiang as well as helps with projects in agriculture and rural tourism.
Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in 2012, China Eastern Airlines Group has pursued high-quality development and played a leading role in China’s civil aviation. From energy conservation and carbon reduction, to airborne evacuation missions and public welfare charity, China Eastern is committed to fulfilling its social responsibilities commitments as a leading enterprise.
Supporting Rural Revitalization
Chinese President Xi Jinping encouraged primary-level Party officials in Yunnan Province to play an exemplary role in leading local residents in revitalizing the countryside, creating a better life, achieving common prosperity, and maintaining stability in the border area. Xi made these remarks in his letter when replying to 10 veteran Party chiefs from border villages of Cangyuan Wa Autonomous County on August 19, 2021.
Cangyuan and the adjacent Shuangjiang, both in Lincang City, were once national-level poverty-stricken counties. China Eastern has invested nearly RMB 500 million in assistance funds since 2012, of which more than RMB 189 million has been used to help the two counties. It helped build the Cangyuan Washan Airport, implemented 101 assistance projects in education, medical care, and renovation of dilapidated houses, and supported 71,933 poor people in 99 impoverished villages to rise above poverty.
Over the past decade, China Eastern leaders have made investigation visits to the two counties every year, discussing ways to improve the lives of locals through effective policies. The opening of the Kunming-Cangyuan airline route shortened the original 15-hour road trip between the two to a 50-minute flight. It has also helped the two counties to expand the production of feature products such as Cangyuan honey and Shuangjiang tea, carry out marketing promotion activities, and expand its supply chain. Cooperation with Tsinghua University to cultivate local farmers and business leaders has been an additional program, while RMB 10 million annually has been provided since 2021 for a three-year teachers’ development program.
Since assessment of the paired-up assistance for poverty alleviation started in 2018, China Eastern has obtained the highest grading for three consecutive years. This led to the company being awarded the title of National Model Unit for Poverty Alleviation by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council in February 2021.
Moreover, China Eastern and the Lincang municipal government signed the Framework Agreement on In-depth Implementation of the Strategic Cooperation of Rural Revitalization on October 19, 2020. A number of assistance projects have been established in Cangyuan and Shuangjiang to help the development of agricultural products, rural tourism and education.
China Eastern supports rural revitalization through progress in businesses, workforce, culture, organizational structure, and environmental protection, acts on the instructions of President Xi in his letter to Party officials in Yunnan, and continues to do a good job in creating lasting prosperity for the Wa ethnic group.
On September 22, 2021, the first anniversary of China’s announcement to the international community of its carbon peaking and carbon neutrality goals, China Eastern, together with Sinopec and COSCO Shipping, jointly held the certification ceremony of China’s first shipment of “full life cycle carbon-neutral oil” in Shanghai. Being the only civil aviation company participating in this project, China Eastern started domestic flights operating on kerosene refined from this very shipment, starting with Flight MU5103 from Shanghai to Beijing, on October 12, 2021. Over 780 flights that departed from Shanghai and flew over 13 routes have participated in this project.
Since 2012, China Eastern has followed the low-carbon development policy, paid close attention to the global climate governance process, and conducted in-depth research on the sustainable development of the industry. It guides corporate development with China’s new development philosophy, practicing the idea that “lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets,” while adopting a series of energy conservation and carbon reduction measures from flight to ground operation.
As early as April 24, 2013, China Eastern obtained the No. 1 Bio-Jet Fuel Chartered Flight Permit issued by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), and operated the first flight in China using bio-jet fuel, over which the country has independent intellectual property rights. During the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-2020), China Eastern strove to reduce carbon emissions from aviation oil, gasoline (diesel), electricity, and water use.
China Eastern has continued to renew its fleet and introduced a new generation of passenger aircraft, such as Airbus A350 and Boeing 787, with higher fuel efficiency and lower carbon emissions. Focusing on the replacement of aircraft auxiliary power units and the “oil-to-electricity transition” of ground vehicles (it now operates over 1,000 electric vehicles), China Eastern has effectively saved fuel and reduced carbon emissions. Its fleet has continuously carried out fuel cost control. From 2015 to 2019, fuel efficiency improved by 4.5 percent. It is also the first in the Asian civil aviation industry to use electronic flight bags for its entire fleet, and the first in China’s civil aviation industry to officially use electronic log books instead of paper log books. By adopting single-engine taxiing in flight operations and new navigation technology such as GBAS Landing System and Head-Up Display System, the company has also effectively reduced fuel consumption and emissions during flight descent.
China Eastern has also achieved an average annual carbon reduction of 400,000 tonnes, equivalent to planting 18 million trees a year. The first North Bund International Aviation Forum hosted by China Eastern in November 2021 released the Global Aviation Industry Carbon Emission Reduction Cooperation Initiative, through which Chinese enterprises lend support for the sustainable development of the global aviation industry.
Mercy Flights and Rescue Missions
When China and its people are in need, China Eastern flies nationwide and worldwide to carry out urgent, difficult and dangerous missions.
In September 2017, Hurricane Maria, the most destructive of the 21st century, devastated the Caribbean. With less than 24 hours of preparation time, China Eastern urgently dispatched two aircraft on September 29, flying over 19 countries and making a round trip of 34,000 kilometers to bring 381 Chinese people back home. They safely landed on October 1, China’s National Day. The mission attracted much attention and in-depth coverage from Chinese and foreign media.
In 2015, after a 7.5-magnitude earthquake struck Nepal, China Eastern chartered aircraft continued to hover and wait for landing instructions from Kathmandu Airport, and finally picked up the trapped Chinese citizens. In 2017, a large number of travelers were trapped in Bali, Indonesia, due to a volcanic eruption, and China Eastern sent over 10 passenger aircraft to rapidly evacuate more than 2,400 Chinese and foreign passengers, making it the Chinese airline that transported the largest number of passengers in the evacuation mission. In 2018, after the capsizing of a cruise ship in Phuket, Thailand, China Eastern was the first domestic aviation company to open a green channel. In 2020, a dam collapsed at a hydropower station in Laos, and China Cargo Airlines, a China Eastern subsidiary, urgently transported relief materials donated by China to the scene.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, China Eastern has led the industry and created many “firsts” in fighting the pandemic. On January 25, 2020, it operated China’s first anti-pandemic charter flight and carried the first Shanghai medical team to Wuhan, Hubei Province. One day later, China Cargo Airlines flew from Manila, the Philippines, to Wuhan carrying 3.16 million masks and other protective equipment, which was the first international flight to help Wuhan. During Wuhan’s fight against the pandemic, China Eastern flew a total of 175 chartered flights carrying medical teams to and from Hubei, accounting for about one-third of the total number of aviation missions nationwide, ranking first in the industry. On March 12, 2020, it flew a group of nine experts and about nine tonnes of materials sent by China to Italy from Shanghai to Rome, which was China’s first overseas anti-pandemic charter flight.
On September 8, 2020, China Eastern received three honors at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing – National Model Unit in Fighting the COVID-19 Pandemic, National Model Primary-Level Party Organization and National Model Individual in Fighting the COVID-19 Pandemic, becoming the airline with the most commendations for fighting the pandemic.
Since then, China Eastern has continued to operate anti-pandemic charter flights that have helped Shanghai, Hainan, Tibet, and Sichuan and flights carrying protective equipment and materials around the world. Its service helps ensure the stability of the international industrial chain and supply chain.
China Eastern has never stopped taking on its social responsibilities over the past decade. Along with the already mentioned initiatives, the airline has also cooperated with the Shanghai Volunteer Physician League to launch the Air Medical Expert program. In July 2021, China Eastern donated RMB 20 million to the Henan Charity Federation for disaster relief and post-disaster reconstruction after a heavy rainstorm. In September 2022, it urgently donated RMB 5 million to earthquake-stricken Luding County, Sichuan Province. It also annually publishes its corporate social responsibility report, and has won the highest ESG (environmental, social and governance) criteria in the global civil aviation industry assessed by internationally renowned rating agencies.
Fulfilling its corporate social responsibilities with high standards in the new era is how CEA practically implements the new development philosophy. The company continues to shoulder new responsibilities and add value in the new era, making greater contributions to meet the growing needs of people for a better life.
SHUI NING is a contributor to China Today.