Aircraft flying through clouds
Climate and Environment

Eliminating Our Climate Impact From Flying

We believe that addressing the climate impact of aviation is essential to helping meet global emissions goals while preserving the vital role that air travel plays in global connectivity and commerce. That is why we continue to focus our strategy on decarbonizing our airline operations and value chain with the goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

Our Climate Strategy

Because the vast majority of our GHG emissions come from jet fuel, achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 depends on our ability to successfully decarbonize our flight operations. Our integrated strategy combines several key levers, including adding more fuel-efficient aircraft to our fleet, increasing our use of SAF and enhancing operations to further reduce fuel use and emissions.

Progress will be shaped in part by our own actions, but also by factors beyond our direct control; including customer demand, technological innovation, government policy and incentives, and the activities and investments of others in our industry and value chain. We remain committed to ongoing engagement and collaboration with partners, policymakers and stakeholders, and to monitoring and updating our strategy as conditions change.


In 2021, Delta proposed medium- and long-term targets for validation by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) and joined the United Nations Race to Zero – Business Ambition for 1.5°C campaign. In doing so, we formalized our commitment to set science-based targets to achieve net-zero emissions and align our business with the ambitions set forth in the Paris Climate Agreement.

In 2022, SBTi validated our medium-term target, which is aligned with holding warming to well below 2°C.

Validation of our 2050 net-zero goal has been pending while we await updated SBTi guidance for setting aviation sector targets aligned with limiting warming to 1.5°C. That guidance has been significantly delayed. We will be re-evaluating with SBTi whether we can continue to wait for that guidance or whether we must withdraw and reapply for validation once the guidance has been issued.

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Delta’s Projected Net-Zero Roadmap1

PATHWAY 2040 2045 7% 47% 10% 32% 3% 2050 mT of COe 18 99
  1. The percentages reflected in this roadmap are our best estimates of the relative contribution needed from each strategy.


An important near-term lever for decarbonization is identifying and implementing operational initiatives that reduce fuel consumption and lower emissions intensity. This ongoing work is led by Delta’s Carbon Council, an established group of senior leaders responsible for driving reductions in fuel consumption through cross-divisional collaboration.

In 2023, the Carbon Council helped realize new incremental fuel savings through initiatives such as working with air traffic control authorities to find more efficient flight paths for select flights between the United States and South America. This translated into fuel savings of 321,521 gallons for just a few routes.

The Carbon Council also oversaw an ongoing initiative to improve fuel efficiency by optimizing the weight of service items loaded onto aircraft. Our On-Board Services team is currently targeting a 10% reduction in service weight per available seat mile (WASM) by 2030, compared to a base year of 2022. In 2023, this work included implementing reductions in potable water service loads and optimizing boarding ratios for food and beverage items on select flights, resulting in a 2% reduction in WASM versus 2022, or savings of 960,000 gallons of fuel annually.



Continually improving how we fly to maximize the efficiency of our existing fleet and operations


Integrating the latest in smart routing, weight reduction, cutting-edge operational processes and fleet enhancements to maximize fuel savings

Our Goals

Gallons or 1% fuel burn savings1 from operational improvements


Gallons or 3% operational fuel savings1


Operational fuel savings1


  • Realized more than 21 million gallons in fuel savings in 20231
  • Grew incremental, year-over-year annual fuel savings by 8 million gallons through initiatives like:
    • Enhanced routing with navigational database updates and more efficient flight paths for certain South American routes via User Preferred Routes
    • Reductions to catering service weight and potable water on board
  1. Compared to 2019.

The efforts of the Carbon Council focus on three key areas:

  • Flying Operations: Increasing efficiency through enhancements to flight routing and planning, and by making modifications to aircraft to improve their aerodynamic performance
  • Ground Operations: Enhancing ground procedures and infrastructure to reduce fuel burn from auxiliary power units (APUs) at the gate, during taxi and during maintenance
  • Weight: Thoughtfully improving the overall weight of aircraft to fly lighter and more efficiently across two domains:
    • Fixed Weight – Reducing weight of equipment and interior components installed on aircraft
    • Variable Weight – Optimizing boarded aircraft weight such as catering and potable water

As illustrated by the figure below, we currently aim to deliver cumulative operational fuel savings of 1.1 billion gallons by 2035, compared to a base year of 2019.

Reducing Aircraft Fuel Use on the Ground

Another important lever for reducing fuel burn is limiting the use of APUs while aircraft are on the ground. In support of this effort, we are working with airport partners to purchase and install ground power units (GPUs) and preconditioned air (PCA) units at several hubs. For example, in 2023, the Wayne County Airport Authority, in collaboration with Delta, was awarded $4.2 million from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Voluntary Airport Low Emissions (VALE) grant program to purchase and install 22 PCA units and 28 GPUs at 28 Delta gates in Detroit (DTW). In addition, Delta upgraded 21 PCA units in Boston (BOS).

In 2023, we restarted a program called APU Ambassadors, which assigns dedicated employees focused on reducing APU usage in Atlanta (ATL), New York (JFK) and Minneapolis-Saint Paul (MSP).

Delta is also conducting one of the first U.S. trials of TaxiBot®, a pilot-controlled tow tractor enabling airplanes to taxi without their engines running. For more information, see the Innovating for a More Sustainable Future of Flight box below.


2022 13M 2023 20M 2024 40M 2025 50M 2030 TOTAL 530M 100M 2035 TOTAL 150M 1.1B gallons 2022 Savings 2023 Savings Future Savings
  1. Compared to 2019.


One of the most important levers for decarbonizing flight is SAF, a liquid hydrocarbon fuel synthetically produced using feedstock derived from renewable sources or waste.

Using current technologies, SAF is estimated to reduce lifecycle emissions up to 80% compared to conventional jet fuel. Over the long term, a shift to next-generation SAF technologies – such as power-to-liquid fuels – could further reduce emissions and help more consistently achieve lifecycle emissions reductions beyond today’s 80% estimates.

For now, though, the biggest challenge is growing the market to make SAF available at a price and scale that can enable it to drive substantial emissions reductions across the sector. At present, there isn’t enough annual production of SAF to fuel the world’s airlines for even one week. Achieving the exponential increase in production required will be dependent on the combined efforts of airlines, fuel producers, federal and state governments and others.

We are working to increase our own supplies and engaging with other market players to encourage and support scaling of the SAF industry.



Addressing barriers to increase the availability and affordability of SAF


Creating demand signals to attract capital, advocate for incentives and ensure support of all ecosystem stakeholders required to scale SAF

Our Goals

SAF usage


SAF usage


SAF usage


  • To achieve our goals of 10% SAF utilization and obtaining 400 million gallons of SAF annually by the end of 2030, we have already entered into long-term offtake agreements for more than 200 million gallons of SAF annually.2
  • In 2023, we continued to secure short-term offtake agreements with industry leaders, including Shell and Neste, and more than doubled SAF deliveries compared to 2022.
  1. Subject to third-party investment and timely facility development.

SAF Procurement

Delta is committed to being a key partner in the growth and development of the SAF industry by signing short- and long-term offtake agreements with multiple SAF producers. We currently aim to procure more than 400 million gallons of SAF annually by the end of 2030, to support our goal of 10% SAF utilization by that date.

By committing to future offtakes from SAF producers, we aim to help stimulate the investment required to scale production. To date, we have negotiated offtake arrangements for future supply with a focus on diversifying both the range of technologies and the producers in our portfolio. Our strategy also involves striking a balance between short- and long-term agreements in order to optimize our investments in response to evolving technology and market dynamics.

In 2023, we signed a two-year SAF offtake agreement with Shell Aviation to support Shell’s efforts to expand the SAF supply at our Los Angeles (LAX) hub. The agreement will also allow us to evaluate Shell’s blockchain-powered digital SAF tracking tool, Avelia. We have also updated our supply contracts with Neste to secure approximately 9 million gallons of SAF between 2024 and 2025 and continue to seek offtakes with emerging producers as supply becomes available.

As a result of these and other short-term agreements, we continue to grow year-over-year deliveries of SAF – achieving a total of 3.5 million gallons in 2023, more than double our 2022 SAF utilization. This achievement occurred despite a challenging environment for the industry, in which several producers experienced supply chain disruptions related to feedstock availability, certifications and the ability to increase production capacity in line with previous estimates.


Procured SAF Number of corporate and cargo customers
contributing to green premium Options million gallons 2020 0.0 2021 0.4 2 1.6 30 2022 3.5 50 2023 2024 12.0 GOAL 2025 11.5+ 8.5 20.0+ GOAL


Gallons of SAF delivered


Metric tons
CO2e avoided

Used primarily at 5 airports:

Amsterdam (AMS), London (LHR), Los Angeles (LAX), Paris (CDG), San Francisco (SFO)

SAF Market Engagement and Development

In addition to investing in SAF for our own fleet, Delta continues to develop important partnerships and coalitions across industries to signal demand, attract investment and advocate for policy incentives to scale the SAF market.

As we have gained more knowledge and experience, we have expanded our efforts beyond procurement to long-term value chain optimization, including working to develop a risk-sharing model that can be financed and spur further scaling. In August 2023, this strategy came to life with the announcement of the Minnesota SAF Hubopens in a new window, a first-of-its-kind coalition leveraging collaboration across the value chain to scale SAF at MSP and support regional economic development (see the Collaborating to Form the Minnesota SAF Hub highlight below).

In September 2023, Delta joined together with an interdisciplinary group of individuals from industry and academia to form the Zero Impact Aviation Allianceopens in a new window. Led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), with partners including Delta, Boeing, the Massachusetts Port Authority, Pratt & Whitney and SAF producer World Energy, the Alliance will convene research-driven workshops and problem-solving sessions to assess potential paths towards a more sustainable aviation system, discuss immediate needs for action and explore the value of experiments or prototypes.

Also in 2023, Delta helped form Americans for Clean Aviation Fuelsopens in a new window (ACAF), the first national coalition of the largest industrial sectors in America – from farmers to fuel producers and aviation to manufacturers – focused on promoting the economic and energy security benefits of building a robust market for SAF and clean aviation fuels. Working together, ACAF will drive national efforts to advance policies encouraging investment in American-grown feedstocks – for the benefit of the economy, farmers and growers, the environment and national security.

Delta also continues to work closely with corporate customers to increase demand for SAF and help address its significant price differential compared to conventional jet fuel. In 2023, we worked with over 50 corporate customers and freight forwarders to help fund and apply SAF toward reducing GHG emissions from their business travel and cargo shipped on Delta. We also focused on implementing more robust emissions and attribution calculation models to help ensure GHG reductions are properly accounted for.

Developing Lower-Carbon SAF

To meet our climate goals, we will need to use SAF from renewable and waste resources and ensure that carbon intensity includes the latest biorefining and feedstock production calculations, including climate smart and regenerative agriculture production practices. Through our participation in forums such as Airlines for America (A4A) and International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), we continue to support a more inclusive model for lower-carbon fuel that accurately represents the emissions reductions achieved.


Through the GREATER MSP Partnership, Bank of America, Delta, Ecolab and Xcel Energy established the Minnesota SAF Hub – the first large-scale SAF Hub in the United States – which will foster collaboration among key players across the value chain to scale SAF production and related innovation. In addition to the anchor members, this effort involves other key partners and stakeholders, including the State of Minnesota, the Metropolitan Airports Commission, the University of Minnesota and knowledge partner McKinsey & Company.

The coalition is deploying a multi-phased approach to scaling production that begins with promoting the flow of SAF into the state and extends to supporting a robust and flexible SAF production infrastructure. Strong policy support is complemented by a rich agriculture landscape, economical renewable energy sources, research and development capabilities, existing aviation fuel infrastructures and strong demand for jet fuel at MSP.

Through sustained engagement in the Minnesota SAF Hub, Delta aims to further progress towards our climate goals, contribute to economic development and establish Minnesota as a leader in sustainable aviation.

We believe the collaborative, value chain approach of the Minnesota SAF Hub is going to become the blueprint for success for how we can scale SAF to the levels we need more quickly.”

Amelia DeLuca Chief Sustainability Officer

The Minnesota SAF Hub’s multi-year strategy includes:

  1. Developing an integrated value chain to produce affordable, low-carbon SAF for use at MSP
  2. Fostering adoption of innovative technologies and solutions to accelerate commercialization
  3. Embedding environmental and water stewardship at all points along the value chain
  4. Supporting research and collaboration to advance technology for lower emissions and greater supply in the future



Transitioning to more fuel-efficient aircraft is one of the most important opportunities we have to reduce emissions both now and in the future. Our strategy includes ongoing fleet renewal – with next-generation aircraft delivered in 2023 achieving, on average, 28% greater fuel efficiency per seat mile than aircraft retired since 2019 – as well as partnerships and investments to support development of revolutionary technologies such as hydrogen and electric propulsion.



Improving fleet-wide fuel efficiency through ongoing renewal and breakthrough innovation


Partnering with innovators to revolutionize what and how we fly

Our Goals

Fuel efficiency gains1


Partnerships with revolutionary tech players


Fuel efficiency gains1


Operation of mainline revolutionary tech


Fuel efficiency gains1


Of fleet made up of revolutionary aircraft


  • Took delivery of 43 next-generation aircraft in 2023.
  • Improved fleet-wide fuel efficiency 5.5%1.
  • Launched strategic partnerships to support promising revolutionary technology, including Airbus ZEROe to explore potential for hydrogen-powered aircraft, and Joby eVTOL for electric home-to-airport transportation.
  1. Compared to 2019.


Next-generation aircraft delivered in 2023


Improvement in fleet-wide fuel efficiency since 2019

Fleet Renewal

We have established sustainability considerations as one of the core pillars guiding our fleet strategy and related capital allocation decisions. Our goal is to achieve at least a 20% improvement in fleet-wide fuel efficiency by 2035, compared to a base year of 2019.

In 2023, we advanced progress by taking delivery of 43 next-generation aircraft, including 28 A321NEOs, nine A220-300s and six A330-900s. Additions to our fleet since 2019 are on average 28% more fuel efficient per seat mile than aircraft retired in the same period. During 2023, we also completed retirement of Delta’s least fuel-efficient aircraft type, the 50-seat CRJ-200, reducing from a total of 26 active CRJ-200s as of year-end 2022.

Combined with operational initiatives and other factors, our fleet renewal efforts have contributed to a total fleet-wide fuel efficiency improvement of 5.5% since 2019.


New Retired Fuel efficiency as expressed in gallons per 1,000 available seat miles (ASMs)  A220–100 New models: A220–300 717–200* Retired models: 737–700 CRJ–200 MORE
EFFICIENT 17.7 27+% 12.9 SMALL NARROWBODY 737–900ER A321–200 A321NEO New models: MD–88 MD–90 A320* Retired models: MORE
EFFICIENT 14.3 31+% 9.8 LARGE NARROWBODY A330–900 A350–900 New models: 767–300ER* 777–200ER 777–200LR Retired models: 14.3 MORE
  • Partial fleet retirement

Future Aircraft Innovation

Beyond 2035, we anticipate the availability of even more advanced aircraft technology, such as novel airframe designs and advanced propulsion systems that could further improve fuel efficiency. To explore and support the development of the most promising technologies, Delta is partnering with researchers and disruptive innovators working at the leading edge of sustainable aviation.

In 2022, Delta became the exclusive U.S.-based airline partner in Airbus’ ZEROe initiative, which seeks to bring to market the world’s first hydrogen-powered commercial aircraft by 2035. As part of the partnership, Delta is leveraging the expertise of its people to identify fleet and network expectations and better understand the operational and infrastructure requirements for supporting commercial aircraft powered by hydrogen fuel. This includes exploring the technical and economic feasibility of this technology, assessing pathways to developing and scaling the availability of green hydrogen at U.S. airports and fostering collaboration among key industry stakeholders.

Delta has also joined a coalition of U.S. airlines providing advisory input to Boeing and NASA’s Sustainable Flight Demonstrator Project and development of the X-66A research aircraft – the first experimental aircraft (X-plane) focused on helping achieve the goal of net-zero aviation GHG emissions. The experimental aircraft will test the Transonic Truss-Braced Wing airframe configuration, which together with expected advancements in propulsion, materials and systems architecture, could help reduce fuel consumption and emissions up to 30% relative to today’s domestic fleet of airplanes.


In 2020 Delta announced a $1 billion commitment over 10 years towards carbon neutrality. However, in 2022, we refocused our sustainability strategy by outlining a commitment to net-zero GHG emissions by 2050 and concluded our offsetting program as of March 31, 2022. As we’ve refined our plan to achieve our long-term sustainability goals and our net-zero ambitions, we recognize that our prior commitment has been subsumed by these goals and success will ultimately require more than $1 billion.

Carbon offsets will likely play a continuing role in compliance with ICAO’s Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation. In 2023, we did not purchase or retire voluntary carbon offsets related to our 2023 airline operations.


Persistent contrails, which represent roughly 10% of all contrails, can either trap outgoing radiation from the Earth (warming contrails) or reflect sunlight (cooling contrails). In an effort to better understand this phenomenon, Delta has partnered with the Laboratory for Aviation and the Environment at MIT’s Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics. The collaboration is studying the causes of persistent contrails and assessing aviation’s potential environmental impact. The tools and technology that are part of the study are being created under an open-source license, allowing others to join in advancing our scientific understanding of contrails and their impact. We are currently in the process of reevaluating our targets associated with persistent contrails based on evolving research and technology.


Launched in January 2023, the Delta Sustainable Skies Labopens in a new window is a first-of-its-kind airline innovation lab focused on research, design and testing for a more sustainable future of air travel.

The Lab features ongoing work across Delta with the aim of helping inspire and support disruptive industry innovation and scale known technology and actions to help reach Delta’s 2050 net-zero goal. To leverage Delta’s expertise and facilitate collaboration across our operations, the Lab is overseen by a council including senior leaders from Technical Operations, Flight Operations, Fleet, Fuel, Operations & Customer Center, Inflight Service and Airport Customer Service.

Delta’s Sustainable Skies Lab is supporting the future of flight by collaborating with Revolutionary Fleet partners, including Airbus’ Hydrogen ZeroE, Boeing’s Transonic Truss-Braced Wing and Joby Aviation. Joby is developing an all-electric, vertical take-off and landing aircraft that will be able to deliver a more sustainable, efficient home-to-airport transportation service to Delta customers. This partnership is another step forward in our efforts to elevate the customer experience with innovative products that have sustainability at their core.

Another project involves testing a novel solution for helping reduce aircraft fuel consumption during taxiing. Developed by Israel Aerospace Industries with Airbus and TLD, TaxiBot® is a towbarless towing device that enables airplane taxiing without keeping aircraft engines running, contributing to significant reductions in fuel burn and GHG emissions, while also overcoming challenges with earlier engine-off taxiing concepts. Delta is currently conducting a trial of this technology at New York’s JFK, through which we aim to understand performance and cost, and evaluate if this solution should be scaled across our operations.