Above and beyond sustainability

British Airways is a global airline, bringing people, places, and diverse cultures closer together for more than 100 years. Serving our community and planet is at the heart of everything we do, and we consider our sustainability initiatives are more important than ever.

Identifying opportunities

Sustainability needs more than just the intention to make a difference – we need to act. Our commitments to sustainability span across smaller projects to large-scale changes across the organisation.

When we noticed how much waste was left behind from career fairs, we identified an opportunity to make a change as exhibitors. Upon joining the Sustainable Recruitment Allowance our first action was to stop printing leaflets.

Now, we have stopped printing leaflets for career fairs – we’ve instead adopted a longevity approach with QR codes that lead to our websites and student resources. We strategically select the events we attend, effectively cutting out extraneous couriering resources. Finally, we’re no longer ordering plastic or non-sustainable merchandise for giveaways. Instead, we’ve adopted experience competitions to engage with students.

Connecting with students

Alongside using existing merchandise sparingly, we turned our focus to shifting employer-student interactions.

We have redesigned our entire work experience programme from a traditional in-person five-day placement to hybrid, allowing students to take part virtually nationwide. Our hybrid format reduces the impact of student travel daily to the airport (already a congested area) and by hosting minimal ‘in-person’ days across different UK sites. This minimises cross country travel for non-London based students.

Everything possible within our recruitment processes has gone digital. We’ve invested in market leading technology – TopScore – to ensure we eliminate both local and cross country travel, also launching virtual webinars and “meet the recruiter” sessions to maintain engagement with the student community.

We’re also expanding our “Golden Ticket” competition. Inspired by our internal award for excellent aircraft service, the programme is designed to recognise high-potential student talent to ensure they stay engaged with BA throughout the academic year. Each month, winners from the programme are invited to build employability skills and develop their potential at insight days, in online skill building workshops and with virtual 1:1 mentoring sessions from a BA colleague in the career area of their choice.


From switching traditional in-person work experience placements to hybrid placements, in 2022 we were able to deliver over 1,600 placements, a whopping 202% increase from 2019 (544 in 2019).

This was not only vital for all students across the UK, gaining crucial work experience, it meant that we were able to directly make an impact by reducing the travel to London Heathrow five days a week.

Trying to balance the demand for in person engagement from schools, colleges and universities, we kept a third of our career events completely virtual (32%), and 24% as hybrid out of 174 events. Our virtual events were broken down into career fairs, career presentations and insight days/webinars, reaching over 20,000 students without the need for couriers, travel, printed resources, or unsustainably sourced merchandise.

We’ve gone from hosting in-person assessment centres for over 800 graduate and apprentice candidates, to transferring this all to a virtual platform in the last 3 years, reducing student travel from across the UK to our recruitment centre in Heathrow, London.

Our goals

Over the next twelve months we’re pledging to weave Sustainability into all grassroots programmes to educate 2,000 students about our sustainability strategy.

This will be done by creating a digital learning module on sustainability on our “Speedbird-Z” student website – currently with over 14,000 users. A permanent sustainability colleague will champion their work at British Airways through the role of ‘digital mentor’ on the platform.

For recruitment fairs, we’ll be partnering and working closely with our BA Community Fund team, who provide support and donations to projects in communities across the UK. They work with numerous projects that create tangible products that are both ethically sourced and sustainably produced.

We’re also working towards creating an online resource library, full of career and employability information at British Airways for students to digest as opposed to printed resources for the classroom. Finally, we’ll be building on our investment into TopScore to ensure that candidates access assessment centres virtually to reduce travel impact.

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