Airlines' fuel practices feed doubts over climate commitment

phys.org | 8/19/2019 | Staff
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How serious are airlines about cutting emissions?

Airlines have taken steps to reduce their carbon footprints under the gaze of public opinion, but the pressure of the bottom line means some fly with extra fuel, boosting emissions of climate-changing greenhouse gases.

Air - Travel - Industry - Carbon - Percent

As the highly competitive air travel industry is being pushed to reduce its carbon emissions—which it puts at two to three percent of the global total—the practice known as fuel tankering has become an acid test for airlines' commitment to really go green.

In fuel tankering, an aircraft's tanks are filled sufficiently at the departure airport to avoid having to take on additional fuel for the return leg at a destination airport where fuel costs may be higher, or there are supply issues.

Study - Eurocontrol - Practice - Strategy - Airlines

According to a study by Eurocontrol, the practice is a money-saving strategy for airlines as it outweighs the cost of additional fuel needed to carry the extra weight on the outbound flight.

"Aviation is a very competitive market and each airline needs to minimise operating costs, in order to keep its ticket prices as competitive as possible," said the group, an inter-governmental organisation that helps harmonise regulations in the sector.

Fuel - Accounting - Percent - Airlines - Operating

With fuel accounting for up to 25 percent of airlines' operating expenses, "saving fuel has become a major challenge for aviation", it added.

Eurocontrol found that in Europe fuel tankering concerns about one in six flights, on average resulting in an extra 136 kg of fuel burned.

Fuel - Cost - Euros - Results - Saving

Despite the additional fuel cost of 75 euros it still results in a net saving of 126 euros per flight. That saving also includes nine euros for purchasing carbon allowances for the 428kg of additional CO2 generated.

The report estimated that in Europe fuel tankering could generate net savings of 265 million euros per year for airlines, while adding 286,000 tonnes of fuel burnt and 901,000 tonnes of...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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