Air New Zealand will no longer supply newspapers in its Koru lounges.

The airline has posted signs in its lounges telling people to use the wi-fi for their computers and cell phones to get the latest news. The Air New Zealand sign says the newspapers had been removed as part of the airline’s commitment to sustainability.

While this may seem a bizarre move for a company that contributes around  3.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide to the world’s atmosphere each year, the airline has not backed down. Nikki Goodman, general manager customer experience at Air New Zealand, told the New Zealand Herald that the move reflects both consumer usage, where customers read news sites online, as well as the company’s effort to minimise its environmental impact.

She said, ”We make no apology for putting our best foot forward to minimise our carbon footprint and we know there is more we can do and are working constructively with current suppliers to our business and some innovative global firms to allow us to do even better in the future.”

Stuff publishes the Dominion Post, Press and Sunday Star Times. Sinead Boucher, chief executive at Stuff, expressed disappointment at Air New Zealand’s move, telling Stuff readers,“While Air New Zealand obviously has the right to make whatever commercial decisions it sees fit, I must admit we were very surprised to hear they were cancelling the newspapers for reasons of sustainability

“We were also really concerned that the message to their customers in the lounges said the decision was linked to sustainability and that therefore the extrapolation is that our papers must be bad for the environment.”

Stuff says it has made extra investment into and reaffirmed its commitment to editorial resources covering climate change and sustainability that reflected the threat to the environment. She says, “We are really proud of our sustainability efforts around print. Not a single tree is cut down to make our papers. One hundred per cent of the paper used is made from waste byproduct. Our ink is made from vegetable oil and tree sap which is biodegradable.

“Last year, we won a global Kodak award for sustainability and environmental projects in the print industry and we use a cold set printing process for our newspapers which is an energy efficient process. Newspapers are an important medium for us as a business and for our customers. Sixty-six per cent of New Zealanders read one a week. Lastly, we are very proud signatories to the Climate Leaders’ Coalition, as I believe Air New Zealand is, and continue to look at all sorts of ways we can reduce our footprint. 

“One of the most profound ways we can help positive change is to provide high quality local and national journalism on climate change and sustainability that helps educate and inform, challenge and inspire. Our team is doing a really tremendous job on this. The support from readers, retailers and advertisers who buy our newspapers is a vital part of being able to fund that,” Boucher said.

NZME publishes the New Zealand Herald. Matt Wilson, chief operating officer at NZME, said, “We respect that Air New Zealand has the right to make decisions it sees fit. We do not however, understand how removing newspapers from the lounges is justified on a sustainability basis.We are very proud of our efforts around sustainability for print.”

NZME oints out that newspapers were 100 per cent recyclable, with newsprint made in New Zealand largely from waste or byproduct fibre from sustainable softwood resources using geothermal steam.

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