GREENAIR NEWSLETTER 4 JUNE 2015
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Airlines report continued improvements in fuel efficiency as industry comfortably ahead on short-term global goal
Thu 4 Jun 2015 – Recently released sustainability reports from five major airline groups show that fuel efficiency continues to improve in the industry although carbon emissions are increasing as a result of growing traffic. Airlines are striving to meet the industry’s short-term goal of a 1.5% annual improvement in fuel efficiency until 2020 but heavy investment in new aircraft and technologies such as wingtip devices is paying off, according to the aviation industry umbrella group ATAG. It reports the overall industry fuel efficiency improvement is currently averaging 2.9% though it does not expect to maintain this level until the end of the decade. Delta, the United States’ second biggest airline in terms of passenger numbers, recorded a 1.93% improvement in 2014 but has ground to make up as its annual average since 2009 is only 1.23% and so below the industry target.
In its Corporate Responsibility Report for 2014, Delta Air Lines says it has decreased its total carbon footprint by 16% since 2005 through a combined fleet, network and fuel and energy savings strategy across all its operations. However, GHG emissions from Scope 1 through 3 activities, which include subsidiary and regional partner flight operations as well as ground operations, began increasing in 2013 as result of an increase in available seat miles that outpaced fuel reduction measures. These emissions totalled nearly 38.9 million tonnes in 2014, a 1.7% increase on 2013, although the airline calculates fuel-saving initiatives saved over 16 million gallons of fuel.
To help push it towards the 1.5% industry goal, the airline is expecting the delivery of more efficient aircraft from 2015 onward, including the replacement of smaller jets with larger Airbus and Boeing aircraft to enable it to carry more passengers with fewer departures, as well as the continued installation of wingtip devices.
Delta maintains an Executive Environmental Leadership Council that is made up of senior executives who help to establish and support sustainability policy, strategy and action plans. In 2014, reports the airline, it oversaw the company’s management on industry engagement on climate change policy at ICAO and performance against the short-term target.
In advance of the medium-term industry goal of carbon-neutral growth from 2020, Delta has become the first major carrier to adopt a policy of offsetting its growth of carbon emissions. Delta says it has so far purchased 1.7 million carbon offsets as a result of the increase in carbon emissions over a baseline year of 2012. In 2013, over 500,000 CDM credits originally purchased for compliance with the EU ETS were retired against the airline’s 2013 emission levels.
The carrier says it is looking to gain experience in the carbon market ahead of 2020 and is listed among the top 10 voluntary buyers of carbon offsets by the Forest Trends’ Ecosystem Marketplace. As well as CDM credits, Delta also purchases credits meeting the Gold Standard and the Verified Carbon Standard, with projects in countries including Brazil, Korea, Peru and Mexico.
Rated by the International Council on Clean Transportation as the most fuel-efficient on US domestic services, the two carriers of the Alaska Air Group, Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air, have reduced mainline flying emissions intensity by one-third over the last 10 years through fleet advancements and flight technology, according to the group’s 2014 Sustainability Report. These advances, it says, have avoided burning 531 million gallons of fuel since 2004, the equivalent of taking one million cars off the road for a year.
Although the group’s total emissions increased from 2013 to 2014 as traffic rose by 6.5%, emissions intensity – as measured per revenue passenger mile – decreased by 2%. GHG emissions from aircraft operations have been steadily rising since 2010 as a result of a continuous increase in traffic and in 2014 reached nearly 4.5 million tonnes, a rise of 3.8% over 2013.
“Maintaining our goal of reducing our emissions while also pursuing growth and coping with price fluctuations in the oil market is a constant challenge,” said Alaska Air Group CEO Brad Tilden. “We have addressed this by investing in a modern airline fleet of Boeing 737s and retrofitting them with split-scimitar winglets to further improve efficiency. This has helped us reduce our carbon emissions by 30%.
“For us, sustainability is more than just a buzz word. Our sustainability initiatives embody our core beliefs as a company.”
The passenger fleets within the Lufthansa Group, the world’s second biggest in terms of revenue, managed an average efficiency record of 3.84 litres of fuel per passenger/100km in 2014 compared to 3.91 in 2013, an improvement of 1.6%, and so meeting the industry 1.5% fuel efficiency target. In 2013, the group’s aircraft fleet consumed nearly 8.8 million tonnes of fuel, with CO2 emissions amounting to 27.7 million tonnes.
In the 2014 reporting year, the group’s absolute fuel consumption increased slightly by 0.7%, but with a rise in transport capacity of 1.9%, it is continuing the trend towards decoupling growth in emissions from traffic growth, says Lufthansa.
The efficiency in cargo transportation throughout the group increased by 0.8% in 2014. The fuel efficiency of the Lufthansa Cargo fleet – at 0.183 litres/tonne kilometre – improved 5.2% over 2013.
With the last of 19 Boeing 747-8 aircraft now being put into service – 15% more fuel efficient than its 747-400 predecessor – and 17 new aircraft to be delivered to the group in 2015 alone, further reductions in specific fuel consumption are expected by Lufthansa. By 2025, it is expecting to receive 272 aircraft at a list value of €38 billion ($43bn).
In comparison, rival group Air France-KLM achieved a fuel efficiency of 3.45 litres of fuel per passenger/100km in 2014, a 6.7% improvement on 2011, and compares to around 4.2 litres in 2002. According to its Air France-KLM CSR Report for 2014, the ambition for the group is to reduce CO2 emissions by 20% by 2020 compared to 2011 in terms of tons per kilometre through measures such as fleet renewal, operational efficiencies, sustainable biofuels and carbon offsetting.
In total the group’s aircraft consumed 8.8 million tonnes of fuel in 2014, emitting around 27.7 million tonnes of CO2, which was approximately the same as in 2013 and a small reduction on 2012.
Under its Fuel Plan programme target of a 1% annual reduction in fuel consumption, Air France says it saved 50 million litres of fuel in 2014, equivalent to 126,000 tonnes of CO2. KLM’s Fuel Savings Plan targets a 6 million litre annual fuel saving and reports an achievement of an 8.8 million litre saving in 2014, or around 22,000 tonnes of CO2.
The LATAM Group, which comprises airlines LAN and TAM, has just released its first Sustainability Report. As such, it is light on historical fuel consumption data but reveals the group was able to reduce its CO2 emissions by 298,184 tons in 2014. Its LEAN Fuel and Smart Fuel Programs have implemented at least 20 initiatives, says the report, including investment in fleet renewal, efficiency gains in routes and flight times due to the use of new technologies such as Required Navigation Performance (RNP), the use of platforms for partial disembarkation, control of air conditioning, on-board weight reductions and engine washing.
LATAM’s strategy is to have one of the industry's youngest fleets and currently has 327 aircraft with an average age of less than seven years. It is also working towards the industry’s carbon-neutral growth goal from 2020 and LAN Perú and LAN Colombia are already involved in offsetting emissions from their ground operations and contributing to reforestation projects.
Meanwhile, Airbus officials revealed at a recent press briefing in Toulouse that the industry overall has so far achieved an average 2.9% annual fuel efficiency improvement since 2009, compared to the 1.5% target. This was confirmed by a spokesman for the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), who told GreenAir: “The achievement represents billions of dollars in investment in new aircraft and efficiency measures by the aviation industry. We are confident the 1.5% goal will continue to be met, although we can expect the improvement level to normalise from the pleasingly high figure as the next few years progress. Of course, the more fuel efficient the better and we’ll continue to push for this across the areas of technology, operations and infrastructure.”
Airbus and French regional aerospace R&D cluster select four environmental SME projects for further support
Mon 1 Jun 2015 – Following a Europe-wide call last year to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) for ideas to improve aviation eco-performance, Airbus and French R&D cluster Aerospace Valley have chosen to take forward four projects. From 59 ideas submitted, seven teams were invited to pitch their projects to a jury of representatives and experts from the two organisations, which assessed the measurable positive impact of their proposals on the environment, the ease of implementation and the level of innovation consistent with the environmental priorities of Airbus. One of the projects selected, from Toulouse-based Innov’ATM, introduces artificial intelligence into the management of ground movement operations and optimise the pushback and taxiing time for aircraft to reach the runway threshold before take-off. The concept is inspired by the behaviour of ants when searching for food.
The other projects are an innovative de-icing system designed by aerospace engineering school ISAE and engineering college and research institute INSA, a study by ONERA into the influence of jet fuel composition, and research by VESO Concept into bio materials for cabin interiors. The four projects can expect assistance in the search for funding and technological partnerships from Airbus, as well as collaboration to help them develop their ideas in the short term.
“This contest is one of the initiatives we began to open Airbus to external ideas coming from our eco-system and in particular from small companies. The call for ideas was a real success with regard to both the number of applications and the quality of the proposals,” said Yann Barbaux, Chief Innovation Officer at Airbus. “We’ll make sure that the winning projects will be closely followed up by our teams.”
The Innov’ATM project has also been selected to be accelerated within the Airbus BizLAb, a recently-launched global network of accelerator facilities that the aircraft manufacturer says has been created to speed up the transformation of ground-breaking ideas into valuable business propositions.
The concept is to provide air traffic controllers with the optimised push-back time for each aircraft and the optimised taxiway path to reach the runway so that waiting time is minimised at the take-off threshold. There is currently no target speed in place for aircraft while taxiing and the system is aiming to iron out the intrinsic uncertainties over the predictability of taxiing times.
According to Airbus, the most efficient algorithm to solve the predictability problem is inspired by studying the behaviour of ants. Innov’ATM models this with a complex graph and the idea is to let the ants determine the shortest and less costly path from the start of the graph – which represents the nest of the ant colony – to the end of the graph – which represents food for the colony.
Aerospace Valley is a cluster of aerospace engineering companies and research centres located in the Midi-Pyrénées and Aquitaine region, mainly in and around Toulouse, and is a member of the European Aviation Clusters Partnership. It has over 800 members, including 470 SMEs, and has had nearly 700 R&D projects certified.
Commenting on the initiative with Airbus, Agnès Paillard, Aerospace Valley President, said: “This is a great opportunity for European SMEs and laboratories willing to start collaborations with Airbus and the Aerospace Valley community. We are convinced that the selected ideas bring interesting concepts to the environmental challenges of civil aviation. Aerospace Valley will therefore support these contributors by helping them to mature their concepts and to transform these ideas into concrete projects or products.”
Meanwhile, a group of students from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands has won the fourth Airbus Fly Your Ideas global competition, organised in partnership with UNESCO, for a design that entails aircraft wings dressed in a composite skin that harvests energy from natural vibrations or flex in the wings.
Piezoelectric fibres gather electrical charges from even the smallest movements during flight, explains Airbus, storing the energy generated in battery panels integrated in the fuselage and using it to power auxiliary in-flight systems, such as lighting and entertainment systems. This reduces the energy footprint of aircraft during flight and could even replace the entire power source for ground operations.
The five all-Indian members of Team Multifun, which received the top prize of €30,000 ($33,000) at an event in Hamburg, are based in India (Indian Institute of Science Bangalore), the UK (City Universtity London), the USA (Georgia Tech) and the Netherlands (Delft University of Technology), and only physically came together for the first time at the final round of the event.
The runner-up, with a prize of €15,000, was Team Retrolley from the University of São Paulo in Brazil. The students gathered information from aviation industry representatives to come up with a practical and simple to implement idea for a system that tackles waste reduction in-flight and cuts down the time taken to collect and sort rubbish post-flight, speeding up airline operations, particularly for short-haul carriers.
Airbus – Eco-efficiency , Airbus – Fly Your Ideas , Aerospace Valley
FAA undertakes most comprehensive study ever into effects of aircraft noise on residents around airports
Thu 28 May 2015 – Although the airliners of today are much quieter than they were 30 years ago, the public’s perception of aircraft noise has changed and, according the FAA, residents around many of the largest US airports have expressed concerns as the rate of aviation growth continues. Current methodologies have not been updated since the 1980s and the FAA has decided to survey residents around 20 selected US airports as part of a multi-year effort to update the scientific evidence on the relationship between aircraft noise exposure and its effects on communities. The agency hopes to finish gathering data by the end of 2016 before analysing the results and deciding whether to update its methods for determining exposure to noise as well as land use issues. It says if changes are warranted then proposed revised policy and related guidance and regulations will be proposed, subject to coordination with other agencies and public review.
“The FAA is sensitive to public concerns about aircraft noise,” said its Administrator, Michael Huerta. “We understand the interest in expediting this research and we will complete this work as quickly as possible.”
Beginning in the next two to three months the FAA will contact residents through mail and telephone in what it says will be the most comprehensive study using a single noise survey ever undertaken in the United States. The names of the 20 airports are not being disclosed in order to “preserve the scientific integrity of the study”, explains the FAA.
The framework for the study was developed through the Airports Cooperative Research Program (ACRP), which is operated by the Transportation Research Board (TRB) of the National Academies of Sciences. Not only will the methodology be used to determine whether to change the FAA’s current approach on aircraft noise, it will also consider land use and justification for federal expenditure for areas that are not compatible with airport noise.
As a result of social surveys of transportation noise in the 1970s, aircraft noise is currently measured on a scale that averages all community noise during a 24-hour period, known as the Day-Night Average Sound Level (DNL), and exacts a ten-fold penalty on noise that occurs during night and early morning hours. In 1981, the FAA established DNL 65 decibels as the guideline level at which federal funding is available for soundproofing or other noise mitigation. This method was reaffirmed in studies conducted during the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Said Huerta: “This Administration takes its responsibility to be responsive to communities’ concerns over air noise seriously. Our work is intended to give the public an opportunity to provide perspective and viewpoints on a very important issue.”
Sponsored by the ACRP, the TRB held a webinar last year covering the potential effects of aviation noise on hearing, sleep, health, annoyance and learning environments. Presenters discussed the noise concerns that present potential barriers to airport operations and expansion, and how those concerns can contribute to delays in both facility and capacity improvements. More details of the webinar and to download a recording available here.
FAA – Airport Environmental Program
Airbus embarks on eco-partnership programme to help airline customers achieve environmental objectives
Wed 27 May 2015 – Airbus has launched the Sustainable Aviation Engagement Programme in which it will provide tailored services and expertise to airline customers to help lower their environmental footprint. The programme will focus on specific objectives by airlines involving aircraft technology, aircraft operations, air traffic management (ATM) and sustainable aviation fuels. Pilot projects are currently being developed with three airlines – Cathay Pacific, British Airways and KLM – before the programme is extended to operators worldwide from 2016. With each awaiting first deliveries of Airbus’ latest aircraft, the A350 XWB, the three carriers are already involved in collaborative projects with the manufacturer covering aircraft noise reduction, end-of-life recycling and sustainable biofuel development.
Dan Carnelly, Marketing Director, Environment for Airbus, told journalists at an environmental briefing in Toulouse last week that two ‘perfect flights’ involving Airbus aircraft with the latest technology had taken place in 2011 and 2012 that utilised best-practice operations, optimised ATM and sustainable aviation fuels, which had demonstrated the potential for CO2 reductions of up to 50%.
“Now we want to move to the next level, beyond the ‘perfect flight’ and mere demonstrations,” he said. “This innovative programme offers Airbus expertise to our customers, tailoring products and services towards the industry goal of sustainable aviation. In principle, it is a framework for long-term collaboration with our customers and the aim is to demonstrate the day-to-day environmental capabilities of Airbus products and services.”
He said cross-industry cooperation involving manufacturers, airlines, airports, air navigation providers, regulators and also environmental NGOs was key in meeting the global aviation voluntary emissions reduction targets.
In a presentation, Cathay Pacific’s Head of Environmental Affairs, Dr Mark Watson, said strategic partnerships were of fundamental importance to the airline. “Quite simply, the scale of the environmental challenges we face and our climate change commitments means we cannot tackle them on our own – we have to work in partnerships,” he said. “Technology is the key and it is important for us to align our business with partners that clearly share our values, such as Airbus.”
An example of this understanding, said Watson, was on aircraft lifecycle approach. “We look at product specification, supply chain procurement, operational efficiency and, most importantly, what we do with our aircraft once they reach their end-of-life service. The Airbus recycling facility in Tarbes is truly state-of-the-art and we will show a video to our staff and customers demonstrating how one of our A340s has been dismantled and the intricate processes involved.”
Through the Engagement Programme, the airline was now working with Airbus to see how the A350-900 XWB aircraft – the first of 48 on order is expected to be delivered in early 2016 – can improve noise and emission issues at Hong Kong International Airport. These would involve feasibility studies, data modelling, simulations and trials, said Watson.
Although aviation was vital to economic growth and connectivity, the issue of its environmental impact was no longer just confined to Europe, he said. “There has been a sea change in attitudes to airport expansion in Asia and we in Hong Kong are having a challenging debate over the need for a third runway and the role aviation plays. A lot of the issues seen here in Europe, particularly over Heathrow, are now happening in a Hong Kong context. Approval for a three-runway system has been obtained but with that comes a considerable number of conditions and also challenges to our licence to grow. Some of the wider benefits that aviation brings in terms of jobs and prosperity are often being lost in the noise over environmental impacts.
“All of this puts considerable pressure on us as flag carrier to really demonstrate our sustainable development credentials and prove the need for responsible growth in the future. Our customers, investors and staff are increasingly concerned about our environmental impacts and want to know what we are doing to address them. With a mission statement to be a socially and environmentally responsible company, we want to make sure that the environment is embedded in every part of our operations.”
Addressing the industry’s environmental impacts was key to earning its licence to grow, agreed Jonathon Counsell, British Airways’ Head of Environment, and working collaboratively with partners was the most effective way to address this, he argued.
Although much of the focus had been on reducing carbon emissions, noise had risen up the environmental agenda over recent years as a reaction to airport expansion at key airports around the world with surrounding high populations, he said. BA has committed to minimise the number of people affected by noise at the airports it serves and has targeted a 15% reduction in noise per flight by 2018 compared to 2013.
“Two years ago we looked at how collaboration could address this issue and established a ‘quieter flight’ partnership with Airbus, Heathrow Airport and the UK air traffic control authority NATS,” he said.
The project has developed noise abatement departure procedures for BA’s A380 aircraft that, uniquely, can reduce thrust temporarily during the departure phase of a flight. This, claims Counsell, can greatly reduce engine noise over the most noise-sensitive areas, typically with the highest levels of population. He reported that four flight trials have confirmed up to a 5 decibel noise benefit can be achieved.
The partners are also working on early-morning arrivals procedures that involve the aircraft descending in a slightly steeper approach of 3.2 degrees instead of 3.0 degrees – too steep an angle requires earlier landing gear deployment, so creating additional noise – and trials are being undertaken this month. Early next year, trials will begin on a two-segment approach in which the aircraft will smoothly transition from 4 degrees in the first segment of the approach to 3.2 degrees in the second.
“Being steeper earlier means you are even higher from the ground and at say 10 miles out you can be 1,000 feet higher than usual, which results in a 5db reduction in noise,” he said.
Sustainable alternative fuels was another area where working collaboratively could provide a big opportunity to reduce the sector’s environmental impacts, added Counsell.
Airbus is already collaborating with another of the Programme’s launch customers, KLM, on developing a market for sustainable fuels and in 2014 the airline launched a series of biofuel-powered flights of an A330-200 from Amsterdam to Aruba and Bonaire.
“We worked intensively with Airbus during the entire project to study the engine performance during the flights,” reported Eileen van den Tweel, KLM’s Innovation Manager. “The Airbus engagement programme is a logical next step in this cooperation, enabling us to expand our relationship to areas other than biofuels.”
Airbus – Eco-efficiency , Cathay Pacific , British Airways – Responsible Growth , KLM – Sustainability
Chinese and Indian airlines come into compliance with EU ETS as Swiss case moves to EU’s highest court
Tue 19 May 2015 – Following a long dispute with the EU over their enforced inclusion in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS), airlines from China and India have finally complied with legislation covering intra-EEA flights that took place in 2012, as well as for 2013 and 2014. The airlines had previously been ordered by their governments not to comply despite a change in the scheme that removed intercontinental flights from the original scope. Air China, China Eastern and China Southern, along with India’s Jet Airways, have now opened operator holding accounts and the EU registry shows reported emissions and surrendered allowances for the three years. However, Air India has still failed to comply, along with Aeroflot and Saudi Arabian Airlines, whose authorities had also instructed non-compliance. Meanwhile, SWISS has been given permission to pursue a discrimination and compensation claim in the EU’s highest court over the inclusion in the EU ETS of its flights between Switzerland and EEA countries during 2012.
The international clash over the Aviation EU ETS saw a number of major powers – China, India, Russia, the USA and others – coming together in 2011 and 2012 as the ‘Coalition of the Unwilling’ to fight the EU’s plan to include all flights arriving or departing its airports in the EU ETS (see article). In the face of such opposition and to help progress ICAO negotiations on a global market-based measure, the EU relented and introduced amending legislation, known as ‘Stop the Clock’, that reduced the scope to intra-EEA flights only in 2012, the first year aviation was included in the scheme. The scope was reduced still further and extended to include the period 2013-2016 in new legislation enacted in early 2014.
Since the scope was reduced to intra-EEA flights, the United States has dropped its opposition to the scheme and most US airlines and cargo and business jet operators have been in compliance. However, airlines from India, China and Russia have up till now failed to report emissions from flights on routes between European airports taking place in 2012 and surrender the required permits, even though mandated under the EU legislation to do so by 30 April 2013. Behind the scenes efforts by authorities in the EU States responsible for administering those airlines to persuade them to comply have, up till now, made no progress. To avoid political confrontation, although States are required to release lists of non-compliant operators, the names of the airlines from these countries have so far not been officially published.
Under the revised EU legislation, the years 2013 and 2014 were regarded as special cases and instead of reporting annually, operators were required to report emissions for both years by the end of March this year, with the required number of permits to be surrendered by the end of last month.
According to the European Union Transaction Log (EUTL), which records and authorises all verified emissions and the surrendering of permits of individual operator accounts, the three Chinese airlines, including Air China’s cargo subsidiary, and Jet Airways have surrendered over 63,000 permits in total – equivalent to 63,000 tonnes of CO2 – between them for the three-year period. During that period, Air China has operated regular passenger flights between Athens and Munich, China Southern between Amsterdam and Vienna, and China Eastern between Frankfurt and Hamburg. The EUTL is not definitive on whether the emissions by the four airlines have been independently verified and approved by their respective EU administering authority.
Jet Airways recently lost a legal appeal against the UK in which it argued that the unilateral inclusion of the airline into the EU ETS did not accord with the global consensus reached by ICAO Assembly resolutions and that the Indian Government had prohibited it from complying (see article). The airline told GreenAir it did not wish to comment on the case and it is not known if it has now received permission to comply following the adjudication.
So far, no operator holding accounts have been opened for the government-owned flag carrier airlines Air India and Aeroflot, whereas other smaller Russian and Indian aircraft operators have complied with the EU ETS provisions. Flag carrier Saudi Arabian Airlines, whose government was also a leading member of the international anti-EU ETS coalition, is understood to have been fined €1.4 million ($1.6m) – one of the biggest single fines handed out – by the Flemish authority, to which it reports.
The EU ETS legislation insists on mandatory fines of €100 per tonne of CO2 for non-compliance by the end of the following April deadline and some EU States, such as Germany (see article) and Italy, have recently published lists for non-compliant aircraft operators in 2012. Air China and Aeroflot, which report to the German environment agency DEHSt, were not listed as their cases were not regarded as definitive.
A report in Carbon Pulse, says the UK authorities have fined six overseas aircraft operators, including Air India, a total of €113,000 ($128,000) for failing compliance in 2012, with the possibility of further penalties to come. UK legislation requires the publication of a full list of non-compliant operators on an annual basis by the end of each June.
Another non-European carrier which had previously failed to comply, Ethiopian Airlines, notched up nearly 20,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions from intra-EEA flights in 2012 and is believed to have been fined by the Italian authorities (see article). However, the EUTL now shows the African carrier has surrendered 62,655 permits covering the 2012-2014 period, almost as many as the four Chinese carriers and Indian airline Jet Airways combined.
Barry Moss, CEO of Avocet, an aviation risk management company that tracks EU ETS compliance issues, said: “It is pleasing to see that a number of previously defaulting airlines are now complying with EU ETS. What remains uncertain is whether the non-negotiable penalties have been enforced by regulators and paid by those airlines for the 2012 emissions compliance year. If the EU wishes the EU ETS to be non-discriminatory to compliant operators then each Member State must act within the EU Directive as transcribed into local laws.”
Meanwhile, in an appeal heard in the High Court in London, Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) has won a referral to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) of its claim that it was unfairly discriminated against when EU/EEA flights to and from Switzerland – a non-EU and non-EEA country – were not exempted from the EU ETS under the ‘Stop the Clock’ derogation for the year 2012. Under the EU ETS regulation, SWISS is administered by the UK.
When the European Commission was drawing up the temporary suspension, it was in negotiations with Switzerland over linking the EU ETS with the Swiss domestic equivalent and the Commission had cause to believe the Swiss authorities were amenable to having Swiss flights included in the revised intra-EU/EEA only scope. However, the pace of the negotiations, which started back in 2010, have been slow but according to Carbon Pulse, an agreement is now expected this year, with aviation expected to be included.
When the scope of ‘Stop the Clock’ was further revised for the period 2013-2016, flights to and from Switzerland were included in the suspension, but SWISS is claiming it was unfair for these flights not to be also excluded in the EU carbon scheme’s 2012 trading year. The airline’s EUTL entry shows it racked up carbon emissions totalling just under 1.23 million tonnes in 2012 on its flights to and from EU/EEA countries, and received an allocation of nearly 600,000 free allowances, leaving it to purchase around 630,000 allowances. Assuming a trading price of around €6 per tonne and allowing for the fact that a proportion of the emissions would have come from intra-EU/EEA flights and so liable anyway under the revised scheme, the cost of purchasing the required allowances could have been over €3.5 million ($4m), for which the airline is seeking reimbursement from the UK in its claim.
An earlier court ruling found that the principle of equal treatment did not apply to differential treatment by the EU towards non-EU member states such as Switzerland and that even if the principle did apply, it had not been breached in this case. However, in a High Court appeal ruling by Lord Justice Vos, it was found that sufficient doubt existed to the scope of the principle and its application in this case to justify a referral to the ECJ, the only court with jurisdiction to rule whether an EU directive was invalid.
“It seems to me that there is some force in the argument that the Commission and the EU legislature have not yet sought to justify Switzerland’s exclusion,” he said in his decision. “I would also be the first to accept that Switzerland is in a very different position to many other third countries politically, economically and geographically. But that does not necessarily provide automatic justification for it having been singled out.”
A SWISS spokesman confirmed to GreenAir that the airline would pursue its case through the ECJ but declined to comment further on the details.
If the ECJ was to rule in the airline’s favour, it would have implications for all other airlines that flew to and from Switzerland in 2012 and reported the emissions for those flights and subsequently paid for and surrendered allowances to cover them.
The European Commission reported yesterday the level of compliance by aircraft operators for the 2013-2014 period was high, with 99% of aviation emissions covered under the EU ETS, including by more than 100 operators based outside the EU that operate flights within the EEA. It said verified CO2 emissions from aviation activities carried out between airports located in the EEA amounted to 54.9 million tonnes in 2014, up from 53.4 million tonnes in 2013, an increase of 2.8%.
Alaska Airlines inks agreement to purchase Gevo’s alcohol-to-jet fuel as certification edges closer
Wed 13 May 2015 – Alcohol-to-jet (ATJ) fuel producer Gevo has signed a “strategic alliance” agreement with Alaska Airlines under which the airline will purchase an undisclosed quantity of the Gevo renewable fuel and include the first-ever commercial flight to use ATJ. The fuel has been undergoing rigorous engine testing, evaluation and data analysis in efforts to have it certified by fuel standards body ASTM International for use in commercial airline operations. Having gone through a six-year process, Gevo is expecting approval of its fuel during the second half of this year, after which a single demonstration flight will take place. A 50/50 blended Gevo ATJ fuel has already been flight tested at supersonic speed by a US Navy fighter aircraft last December. Alaska has targeted the use of sustainable aviation biofuel at one or more of its airports by 2020.
“Developing a domestic, competitively-priced, sustainable supply of biofuels is fundamental to the future of American aviation,” said Joe Sprague, SVP External Relations, at Alaska Airlines. “The cost of fossil-based jet fuel is one of the largest expenses for airlines. This investment in Gevo’s ATJ will help reduce our exposure to high fuel prices, minimise our carbon footprint and demonstrate growing demand for fuel alternatives.”
Alaska was the first to fly multiple commercial passenger flights using sustainable biofuel when in November 2011 it and its sister airline Horizon Air flew 75 flights between Seattle and Washington DC and Seattle and Portland using a blended fuel sourced from used cooking oil (see article).
Gevo is producing ATJ at its demonstration biorefinery in Texas using isobutanol produced as a feedstock through a proprietary technology process at a fermentation plant in Minnesota. Last year, the renewable jet fuel underwent testing and analysis by Lufthansa as part of the ASTM evaluation (see article). In March this year, NASA announced it had purchased Gevo ATJ fuel for aviation use at its research centre in Cleveland, Ohio (see article).
“A sustainable biofuels industry would help insulate airlines from fuel price spikes, enabling them to offer economical air travel while helping meet their environmental goals, and spur economic growth within and outside aviation,” said Gevo CEO Dr Patrick Gruber. “We greatly appreciate Alaska Airlines as a commercial partner as we move towards commercialisation.”
Presenting the company’s first quarter results yesterday, which showed hydrocarbon revenues of $500,000 that were primarily related to the shipment of ATJ fuel to the US military, Gruber said: “By the end of 2015, Gevo expects to be in an excellent position to meaningfully grow its jet fuel business, both for commercial airlines and military applications.”
Alaska Airlines – Sustainability , Gevo