Airbus has launched a programme to help airlines reduce their environmental footprint as an international aviation organisation works to cut the growth of emissions.

The Airbus programme is based on four pillars - aircraft technology, aircraft operations, air traffic management and sustainable aviation fuels.

The Sustainable Aviation Engagement Programme is developing pilot projects, during which Airbus will work closely with Cathay Pacific, British Airways and KLM.

Lessons from the projects will be extended to operators worldwide from next year.

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Jean-Luc Taupiac, Airbus' head of environment, said the perfect flight, a combination of using latest aircraft technology, best aircraft operations, optimised air traffic management and sustainable aviation fuels, unlocked the full potential to minimise the environmental footprint.

Eileen van den Tweel, KLM manager of innovation, said the airline was developing a market for sustainable biofuel.

Last year, KLM launched a series of biofuel flights to Aruba and Bonaire in the Caribbean that lasted six months, operating an A330-200.

"We worked intensively with Airbus during the entire project, to research the engine performance during the biofuel flights," van den Tweel said.

"Airbus' Sustainable Aviation Engagement Programme is a logical next step in this co-operation, enabling us to expand our relationship to other areas than biofuel."

Aviation environmental umbrella organisation the Air Transport Action Group says it is aiming for an average 1.5 per cent annual improvement in the fuel efficiency of the world fleet.

Executive director Michael Gill said a second goal was to stabilise net aviation CO2 emissions at 2020 levels through carbon-neutral growth.

The organisation also aimed to halve aviation's net CO2 emissions by 2050 (when compared with a 2005 baseline) which Gill said was the most ambitious goal.

This year will see the first regular use of alternative fuel for commercial passenger flights, he said.