Fri 2 Nov 2007 - Although British Airways’ today announced an impressive 22% increase in operating profits for the six months to September 30, the airline reports that its annual fuel bill is set to top £2 billion ($4bn) for the first time. “Fuel costs remain a major challenge,” said chief executive Willie Walsh.
However, Walsh is expecting the 36-strong fleet of longhaul, new-generation Boeing 787 and Airbus A380 aircraft that were recently ordered, with options for a further 25 aircraft, to help bring down this mounting overhead. “These aircraft set the gold standard when it comes to environmental performance in CO2 emission, local air quality and noise,” he said. “They will contribute significantly to our target of improving fuel efficiency by 25% between 2005 and 2025.”
Walsh is keen to stress the airline’s commitment to green issues. “Our environmental credentials are being scrutinised as never before. We have taken climate change very seriously for a long time. More than a decade ago we were the first airline to set a target for improving fuel efficiency and we led the way in advocating carbon trading.
“We have made improvements to the accessibility of our online passenger carbon offset scheme on ba.com and will announce further improvements in the coming weeks. On waste minimisation we aim to recycle half of our waste and phase out use of landfill by 2010.
“To cut emissions and save fuel, nearly half our aircraft now taxi to the terminal with one engine shut down. In readiness for the move to Terminal 5, we have taken delivery of 38 new airport buses, which comply with the latest Euro 5 exhaust emission standards.
“We are committed to ensuring our people and our processes reflect our responsibility to the environment. To support our commitment we have appointed Silla Maizey, former Head of Procurement, as our new Head of Corporate Social Responsibility.”
Walsh expressed concern about “operational constraints” at Heathrow. “Heathrow has no spare runway capacity and operates on the same two runways it had when it opened 60 years ago. As a result, the company is vulnerable to short-term operational disruption and there is little it can do to mitigate against this. The UK government is expected to announce shortly a public consultation on full utilisation of the two runways and on the construction of a short third runway.
“This would create extra capacity and reduce delays. Ending stacking before landing and queuing on taxiways would cut Heathrow’s CO2 emissions by 500,000 tonnes a year. An increase in runway capacity would create more take-off and landing slots and enable Heathrow to rival European hubs like Paris, Amsterdam and Frankfurt.”
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