South Africa is a water scarce country and the reality of this shortage is becoming all too apparent as Cape Town, and other regions in the country, face severe water shortages.
As a responsible South African company, we are doing our part to try and assist in this crisis and strongly encourage our customers to do the same.
It’s so simple to leave the tap running too long while washing your hands or brushing your teeth if you’re visiting Cape Town and not yet in the habit of being as water conscious as you need to be. To this end we see it as very important that we do our part in spreading awareness about the water crisis in the area.
- Our flight crew have been briefed to make announcements upon arrival in Cape Town to caution people to please be conscious of their water usage in the area. This is something that we implemented in early November 2017.
- Similarly we’ve included visual messaging in our pre-flight communications, specifically targeting people travelling to Cape Town and have reached out to our valuable distribution partners to please do the same.
Cutting Our Own Usage
Another very important consideration is of course for us to reduce our own water requirements in the Western Cape region.
In order to reduce our water footprint, we’ve opted to conduct meetings in Johannesburg rather than in Cape Town, even flying up more people than we would need to fly down. When it’s imperative that we do have people in Cape Town, we’re ensuring that we keep visits as brief as possible, avoid overnight stays if possible.
Aircraft cleaning, particularly exterior washing, is being prioritised to take place in Johannesburg, rather than in the Cape. Given the circumstances, we are quite certain that our customers will not begrudge us the odd dusty aircraft.
Similarly, the water that is uploaded aboard the aircraft into the aircraft tanks is uploaded from stations outside of Cape Town where the shortages are less severe.
We employ a number of people in the Cape Town region as a responsible employer we are concerned about their well-being, especially facing day zero. Our Corporate Services team is working together with our Cape Town management to find ways in which the company can help to support our own people during this challenging period.
Flying With Water
Many of our customers have asked if they can fly with water either as hand luggage, or as checked luggage or both. If passengers have space in their checked luggage and are happy to take the risks of potential liquid damage, they are most welcome to fill up their checked luggage weight with water.
We have also made allowances for passengers to carry on 5 liters of water over-and-above the 7kg hand luggage limit, but this is subject to certain strict conditions:
- For practical and safety reasons this water must be stowed under the seat in front of you and not in the overhead bin. This does mean that people seated in emergency exit, and bulkhead rows, will not be able to carry water as these isles must be kept clear for safety reasons.
- We preference the square 5 litre containers as they fit well beneath the seats and are also less likely to roll around.
- We also suggest that passengers bring factory sealed bottles to avoid any concerns at airport security.
Please Be Informed
While we are very happy to accommodate our passengers’ requests to fly with water, we do feel it necessary to ensure that people are fully aware of the environmental consequences of flying with water.
There’s little doubt that climate change has contributed to the situation that we find ourselves in, and we know that pollution, or our carbon footprint, is contributing to this situation.
Unless it can be piped, shipping water to the Cape region is going to require the combustion of fossil fuels. To make matters worse, water is very heavy, and tends to use a lot of fossil fuel to transport.
Air transport is actually a very inefficient way to move water. According to DHL’s Carbon footprint calculator, the carbon output resulting from transporting 100 liters of water by air from Johannesburg to Cape Town is between 17 and 18 times that of transporting the same amount of water by road. Similarly, the carbon footprint of transporting 100 litres of water by air, is almost thirty times that of transporting the same water by rail.
So while flying with water may seem like a helpful thing to do, it’s essential that customers are conscious of the environmental affect of carrying water by air.
So How Can You Help?
If you are travelling to Cape Town and wanting to offset your water use while in the city, we strongly suggest that you look to rather make a financial contribution to one of the many causes who are working in the area, rather than carrying water aboard an aircraft. Some great examples include:
Water-Wise Tips for Visitors
Take 2min stop-start Showers: Bathing is not allowed, and if you can escape a quick visit without a full shower that’s even better. If you do take shower keep it as short as possible - 2min maximum. Don’t let the water run too long to heat up. Wet your body and then turn the water off while you soap up. Then turn the water on again to rinse.
Avoid washing your hair: If you’re going for a short visit, try to avoid washing your hair in Cape Town. Dry shampoos offer a great alternative to a full wash.
Don’t let taps run: Make sure that you turn taps off when soaping up your hands or brushing your teeth.
Leave your laundry at home: Don’t bring washing to with you, try to plan to wash everything you need at home.
Minimise your bedding: If you’re staying at a hotel, try to limit your use of sheets, duvets and pillows as far as possible. Simply remove the items you do not want to use from the bed and neatly fold them up and put them aside. Be sure to inform the hotel staff that you did not use these items and that there is no need for them to be laundered again. Leave a note if you have to.
Don’t Flush Everything: This one is hard for many, but try to be conscious not to flush the toilet unless it’s really necessary.