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PwC Bars Staff From Flying Business Class in Bid to Reach Net Zero Emissions Target

PwC Bars Staff From Flying Business Class in Bid to Reach Net Zero Emissions Target

a seat with a tv on it

Big Four accounting firm PwC is barring employees based in the UK from travelling in Business Class on most flights, but the professional services organisation says that rather than being a cost-cutting move, the premium cabin ban is actually part of an effort to achieve the company’s net zero emissions target.

As first reported by the Financial Times, the British side of PwC has told staffers that they should only fly in Business Class on overnight long-haul flights or when travelling for ‘business critical’ reasons.

The rule, which was communicated to staff in October, will apply to both partners and directors, as well as their entourages. The previous policy allowed senior staff to fly in Business Class on all flights of five hours or longer.

PwC wants to achieve net zero by 2030 but the company says that target won’t be possible unless staff cut back on air travel and specifically premium cabin travel. At present, air travel accounts for two-thirds of PwC’s carbon emissions.

The company wants staff to consider other ways to do business, including online Zoom meetings. When business travel is required, PwC would like to see staffers stay for longer and schedule more meetings to reduce the number of times that employees need to fly to the same destination.

PwC wants its partners and directors to routinely travel in the Premium Economy cabin – similar to Business Class seats from several decades ago but which don’t go fully flat and come with a lot less privacy.

Marissa Thomas, managing partner at PwC UK, however, says the latest generation of Business Class seats is 50% more carbon intensive than Premium Economy seats. PwC insists the Business Class ban is all about reducing emissions and not costs.

Business travel is taking much longer to recover following the pandemic in the UK compared to many other markets, and British Airways now reports that up to 75% of its passengers are now travelling primarily for leisure rather than business.

View Comments (4)
    • Yes. The only reason people work for one of the big four or one of the management consulting firms is for frequent flyer status and personal affirmation and gratification.

  • You may want to put “UK” in the title of the article. You almost gave me a heart attack! PwC is not one firm but a collection of separate country firms. Hopefully this idiotic decision by the UK firm will not be adopted by the US firm.

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