With its Sustainability-Linked-Bond, Heathrow Airport is committed to reduce CO2 emissions


The aviation sector is responsible for around 2.5% of global CO2 emissions and growing(1). Recognising the impact of the sector, the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization has agreed an aspirational goal of reaching zero emissions by 2050.

This transition will require continued efforts and coordination from all stakeholders across the entire value chain, including airlines, airports, air navigation service providers, manufacturers etc.

Many airport operators acknowledge their role in the decarbonisation of the aviation sector. This is especially the case for Heathrow Airport, the busiest airport in the UK and Europe and amongst the top 10 airports worldwide in terms of passenger numbers, which recently successfully issued its inaugural Sustainability-Linked-Bond (SLB), with Societe Generale acting as SLB Structuring Bank.

The issuance has been structured based on Heathrow’s best-in-class Sustainability-Linked Bond Framework2 and includes two KPIs which address 100% of the airport’s Scope 1, 2 and 3 carbon emissions. This is the first time an airport operator has issued a sustainability-linked instrument that focuses on its entire emissions. Heathrow is also the first airport to have a validated Science-Based target initiative (“SBTi”) trajectory aligned with a 1.5-degree scenario. 

The transaction is linked to Heathrow’s commitment to achieve the two following Sustainability Performance Targets (SPT):

  • a 15% cut in ‘in the air’ carbon emissions by 31 December 2030, compared to a 2019 baseline – this includes absolute scope 3 emissions coming from aircraft (landing & take-off cycle and cruise for departing flights).

  • a 46.2% cut in ‘on the ground’ carbon emissions by 31 December 2030, compared to a 2019 baseline – this includes scope 1 2 and 3 emissions, and this target has been validated by the SBTi.

By addressing both types of emissions, Heathrow is committed to reducing all sources of emissions independently. Furthermore, its Net Zero plan sets out the actions the airport will take to achieve those goals. Where it does not directly control emissions, the plan establishes how it will work in partnership with and influence others, particularly airline customers, other companies that operate at the airport, and passengers. 

The inaugural EUR 650million Sustainability-Linked-Bond has been received very positively. 

1 Source: missionpossiblepartnership.org
2Sustainability-Linked_Bond_Framework_June_2023.pdf (heathrow.com)

We are very proud to have supported this ground-breaking and progressive transaction which sets a high bar for the whole airport sector. This best-in-class framework demonstrates Societe Generale’s expertise in tailor-made advisory services and the Bank’s ability to structure sustainable finance instruments to support our clients in their transition towards net zero-emissions.
Stephane MarcielHead of Sustainable Bonds, Debt Capital Markets