British Airways is the least fuel-efficient transatlantic airline – and Norwegian the most
Travellers with an environmental conscience would do well to avoid British Airways if booking flights to America, after the airline was ranked bottom for fuel efficiency by a new study.
The report released on Tuesday found that fuel efficiency across the 20 airlines flying the most people across the Atlantic in 2017 had increased by 1 per cent since 2014, but that large, ageing aircraft, such as the 747, were holding the industry average back.
Next year the aviation industry will begin monitoring their carbon emissions as part of a landmark agreement to cut air travel pollution by 2050, thought to account for 2 per cent of all global man-made carbon emissions.
Eight airlines, including UK carriers Thomas Cook and Virgin Atlantic, boasted better fuel efficiency than the average, both ranking joint fifth. Virgin last year said that fuel efficiency was its number one environmental policy.
The ICCT study highlighted the environmental value of new fuel efficient aircraft such as the 787 Dreamliner, the Boeing 777 and 737 MAX and Airbus A350, the former used by Norwegian and Virgin. It also found that Norwegian and second-placed WOW air, another low-cost, long-haul airline, performed well as their planes had fewer premium seats and a higher passenger density. Premium seats, such as business and first class, are on average up to 2.7 times as “carbon-intensive” as economy seats.
“Overall, airlines with more fuel-efficient aircraft, less premium seating and higher passenger and freight load factors operated more fuel efficient flights,” the report by the US-based not-for-profit organisation said.
“The estimated gap between the most and least fuel-efficient transatlantic airlines widened from 51 per cent in 2014 to 63 per cent last year,” the report said, explaining that Norwegian’s fuel efficiency increased while British Airways’ decreased.
BA was also mentioned for its use of the 32-seater, business-only Airbus A318 that flies between London City and New York John F Kennedy on weekdays. The luxurious seating configuration makes the flight the least fuel-efficient across the Atlantic.
Norwegian CEO Bjorn Kjos said: “The most important thing that an airline can do for the environment is to invest in newer aircraft which use the latest technology to be as fuel efficient as possible.
“Our strategy to have a modern fleet is paying dividends not only for our business and customers, but also our planet. This recognition from ICCT is truly the highest form of industry praise and is validation that we’re moving in the right direction with more environmentally friendly planes.”