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Sustainability reporting in the airline industry : a comparative case study analysis of four selected European passenger airlines and their countries of registration on the basis of the airlines’ annual reports and sustainability report from 2018

Kesore, Laura Vani (2020) Sustainability reporting in the airline industry : a comparative case study analysis of four selected European passenger airlines and their countries of registration on the basis of the airlines’ annual reports and sustainability report from 2018.

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Abstract:Sustainability reporting for airlines is becoming more and more important. The driving forces are the external and internal pressures, such as demand from the public and society, from governments, stakeholders and shareholders, as well as from NGOs, activists, and the industryintern economic competition between the airlines. Within the scope of this research, the main focus was on the research question: How can the variation in the claims of sustainable measures reported in the 2018 annual reports and sustainability reports by four different European airlines be explained from the characteristics of the airlines and of the countries in which the airlines are registered?. The ecosystem for the conducted analyses consists of four airlines from four different countries in the European Union. Seven sustainability parameters were chosen in order to objectively analyze the sustainability reporting of the airlines and of their countries of registrations. The parameters are: (I) alternative fuel, (II) CORSIA, (III) aviation tax, (IV) aircraft age, (V) aircraft design, (VI) Dow Jones Sustainability Index, and (VII) atmosfair Airline Index. On the one hand, the comparison was made between the chosen airlines. On the other hand, the comparison was made between the airlines’ countries of registration. In the end, the airlines’ sustainability reporting is compared with the countries’ reporting on sustainable measures addressed. For this comparative analysis, the airlines ’annual reports and sustainability reports of the year 2018 were considered. The following methods were applied to study and analyze the information gathered within this work: First, a quantitative dataset is created. This way, an inventory table of all European airlines is generated which already helps to address the hypotheses. Second, a documentary analysis, namely a content analysis according to Mayring (2004), is performed. The technique of deductive coding is applied in order to compare four airlines studies from four different countries with each other. The main findings of this research are that today’s sustainability reporting by European airlines is heterogeneous within the airline industry itself and also differs from the sustainability reporting of the airlines ’countries of registration. Interestingly, from an expected knowledge point of view, this is opposite to Institutional Theory which expects that organizations operating in the same institutional field become more similar as they adopt activities from each other. Results of the research conducted in this work delivered the following facts: CORSIA is the most important and highest addressed measure at both the country and airline levels. The (mean of) Sustainable Development Goals of a given country is a better indicator than the (mean of) sustainability rating of countries in order to evaluate the extent of the sustainability reporting in terms of the seven selected factors. Although no clear correlation could be established, a clear trend could still be seen: the lower the SDG of a country, the more likely the country shows a smaller number of reported measures. A higher number of reported measures by airlines is linked to the target of reputation building and keeping, and image creation. Low-cost airlines do not report less on sustainability measures compared to full-service airlines. The business model of an airline does not play a role in the reporting of sustainable measures. Due to the increasing public and governmental pressures, sustainability reporting has become a tool for legitimacy, especially in the digital age. All actors involved in this industry do care and are concerned with the sustainability of the airlines. Digitalization and public awareness in general have tremendously increased the awareness and interest for sustainability. As such, sustainability is and will keep growing to be a very important and dynamic main facet for the airline industry’s future.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:88 social and public administration
Programme:Public Administration MSc (60020)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/83054
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