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Responsible Airline Sourcing – Case study

The ECO approach




Aerospace & Defense Industry



Results at a glance: 

  • Top sustainable suppliers showed high traveler wellbeing initiatives with an average traveler experience score of 4.4 out of 5
  • 18% carbon reduction opportunities within Thales’ most sustainable suppliers identified
  • 3% incremental savings generated despite pandemic related volume declines



Pioneers in sustainable travel initiatives, Thales has reported on their business travel greenhouse gas emissions since 2010. Aiming to reach a 40% emissions reduction target by 2030, the travel team identified suppliers as major contributors toward achieving this target.

Thales needed a way to incorporate sustainability and traveler wellbeing into their preferred supplier selection process, ensuring the airline partners selected could maintain competitive pricing, prioritize traveler comfort and experience, and support environmental sustainability targets.


Solutions Group’s unique sourcing service applied a triple bottom line approach across employee wellbeing, climate impact and organizational performance (ECO) to supplier selections. Solutions Group provided a framework and evaluation matrix to assess suppliers in four categories leading to an ECO Score: 

  • Commercial offering 
  • Sustainability
  • Traveler experience
  • Social/Ethical practices

ECO scoring normalized intangible aspects of travel, assigning numerical value to all supplier benefits to drive responsible supplier selections. 

The ECO method offers a ground-breaking approach to travel procurement. Factoring employee wellbeing, climate impact, and organizational performance into the sourcing process, ECO uncovers the full value and impact suppliers can have on a responsible travel program, allowing travel managers to align with like-minded suppliers who will support all travel program goals. 



Solutions Group identified a clear overlap between suppliers with high environmental initiatives and those investing in traveler experience. The ECO scoring allowed for easy identification of well-rounded suppliers.

With added insight in supplier sustainability, Thales identified the opportunity to reduce carbon emissions by up to 18% on top routes by aligning with sustainable airlines.

Even with the inclusion of responsible considerations to the scoring process, commercial success remained high. Thales achieved sourcing best-in-class discounts on 80% of top routes, and maintained strong supplier support to the new approach with 100% of suppliers responding to the additional questions.

Next steps

Steering travelers toward the most responsible suppliers, Thales has preferenced airlines based on their sustainability scores within their online booking tool. 

Responses will be saved, and comparisons will be made in the next sourcing exercise to measure airlines' progress on responsible practices. Scoring criteria will strengthen with each RFP to ensure progress toward a net-zero travel program.

“The ECO approach allowed us to redefine our calculations with the emission factor rule validated by Thales Health, Safety and Environment department. It also provided our group an RFP evaluation tool based on accurate criteria, on social, climatic or traveler experience which will enable us to work hand in hand with our partners to achieve our common ambition with concrete action plan and enhanced monitoring.”

Charlotte Kilfiger
Travel Category Manager, Thales

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