Environmental Sustainability and Action
Dave Pflieger, an accomplished turnaround executive who is well known in the aviation industry, views environmental friendliness and sustainability as key pillars of running a good business.
A former United States Air Force officer who was also a B-52 instructor pilot and later a commercial airline pilot and senior executive, Dave Pflieger has made it a point to be different in his industry — different in that he not only fixed and built successful businesses, but has also ensured every company he has led has been environmentally friendly and focused on environmental sustainability.
During Dave’s tenure at Virgin America, he not only came up with the idea of creating the airline’s corporate social responsibility program, he got full Board of Director support and built it into the best and most comprehensive program in the airline industry. In particular, by the time he was done, Dave was able to get the Virgin HQ building LEED Silver certified, make Virgin the first U.S. airline to measure and report its carbon footprint on the Climate Registry and make Virgin the first airline in the world to offer passengers the ability to obtain carbon offsets in-flight.
In addition, he also established company-wide recycling, made sure HQ staff only used recycled products in its kitchens and copy centers, created company “green teams” that ensured the airline and its employees helped the environment by picking up local beaches and reduced their carbon footprints by riding bikes and carpooling to work. Most importantly, however, Dave and his dedicated CSR teammates ensured that the airline operated the most fuel-efficient aircraft in the U.S. skies (20% more fuel and carbon efficient than the average U.S. fleet) and they also made sure that taxi, takeoff/landing, in flight, and airport operations were accomplished in the most fuel and CO2 efficient way possible. Virgin also became the first in the world to measure and report their CO2 emissions with the help of the U.S. EPA. In short, Dave created a program and a team at Virgin America that made sure environmental awareness was fully baked into the airline’s DNA. Through these collective efforts, Dave and his fellow “green teamers” positioned Virgin America as a pioneer in the U.S. airline industry.
In addition to simply doing what’s right and planning for a better, cleaner future, Virgin’s green initiatives also enhanced financial performance — given the high percentage of costs coming from fuel and energy consumption. Within the airline industry specifically, Silicon Valley companies consider sustainability as an important factor in business travel. And a McKinsey Global Survey reports that sustainability principles are crucial in “saving energy, developing green products, and retaining and motivating employees,” all of which reflected Dave Pflieger’s successful focus on corporate wellness and responsibility.
As the Managing Director and CEO of Air Pacific Ltd (which he rebranded to “Fiji Airways”), Dave’s accomplishments included retiring the company’s gas-guzzling 747-400 and 767s, and replacing them with brand new, fuel-efficient, Airbus A330 aircraft, which nearly halved airline CO2 emissions.
Environmental awareness was also a core part of Dave’s work with Fiji Airways. In August of 2012, the airline partnered with the Mamanuca Environment Society (MES), an initiative which aimed to protecting the marine and terrestrial environment of the Fijian Mamanuca Islands in Fiji.