Title: Airlines use of social media to communicate sustainability

Authors: Dixie Button

Addresses: Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Worldwide, 1 Aerospace Blvd, Daytona Beach, FL 32114, USA

Abstract: Stakeholders in the airline industry are operating in a digital world. Social media has drastically changed the marketing landscape allowing for two-way communication between businesses and stakeholders. American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines together hold about 80% of the US passenger airline market. Each is working towards improving environmental sustainability and reducing their carbon footprint. This study looked at the social media channels used by these airlines to communicate environmental sustainability efforts. YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter were examined to determine their use by the airlines in communicating efforts on recycling, carbon offsetting, alternative fuels, and fuel efficiency. As an oligopoly, it was expected that each airline would be responsive to the activities of their competitors. This was not always the case. The airlines did address environmental sustainability issues but only in postings and never in the relationship building two-way conversation opportunity provided by social media.

Keywords: social media; sustainability; airlines; digital media; communication; branding; environmental sustainability; Delta Airlines; American Airlines; United Airlines; Southwest Airlines.

DOI: 10.1504/IJSA.2020.110600

International Journal of Sustainable Aviation, 2020 Vol.6 No.2, pp.123 - 133

Received: 15 Aug 2019
Accepted: 20 Feb 2020

Published online: 03 Sep 2020 *

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