Nick Herbert meets airline to discuss environmental issues

Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert visited Gatwick Airport to hear about Virgin Atlantic's plans to make its business more environmentally sustainable.


The Shadow Environment Secretary met with Virgin's General Manager of Government and External Relations Sian Foster and Director of HR and External Affairs Jill Brady on Friday (12 March).

Mr Herbert heard about Virgin's Sustainability Strategy which sets out plans to increase recycling and reduce the amount of waste going to landfill, cut energy consumption and obtain more of its supplies from sustainable sources.

Mr Herbert was also told about plans to improve the fuel efficiency of its fleet by 30 per cent by 2020.

The company confirmed that it would continue its search for cleaner fuels but would not use biofuels from sources that contribute to deforestation, hinder staple food production or generate higher ‘lifecycle' carbon emissions.

During his visit, Mr Herbert was given a tour of the Manor Royal training facility, known as The Base, to see how cabin crews are trained to deal with emergencies and witnessed an evacuation exercise designed to test the response of staff under extreme stress.

Mr Herbert also tried his hand at the controls of a Boeing 747 in a training cockpit, tried out the emergency inflatable slide and visited the full-size cabin replicas used for crew training, one of which contains a cocktail bar where Daniel Craig was filmed for the James Bond film Quantum of Solace.

Sian Foster commented: "We're really grateful to Nick for taking the time to visit our fantastic training centre in Crawley, and for talking to us about our sustainability strategy.  A lot of our environmental targets are driven by feedback from our passengers and cabin crew, who want to fly with an airline like Virgin Atlantic that's at the forefront of exploring new opportunities to become more sustainable."

Nick Herbert commented: "I'm grateful to Virgin Atlantic for inviting me along to Gatwick on Friday.  It was interesting to hear about the company's plans to reduce its impact on the environment.  Airlines have an important part to play in tackling climate change and it's encouraging to see a major British business taking its responsibilities seriously."

Mr Herbert added: "It was fascinating to see how cabin crews are trained to deal with emergencies and I leapt at the chance to try out the inflatable slide for myself.  It was great fun but I hope I'll never have to use one for real!"



Notes for Editors

1. For more information on Virgin's environmental strategy, visit

2. The tour of The Base was led by training supervisor Richard Fitzgerald, Safety Training Instructor Mark Nation and cabin crew trainer Jaemi Cooper.

Alexander Black