TUI Travel commits to operating Europe's most fuel-efficient airlines as it raises its carbon target ambitions
Thomson Airways took delivery of its first Boeing 787 Dreamliner in May
Thu 29 Aug 2013 – International leisure operator TUI Travel says its six airlines have achieved their overall 6 per cent carbon reduction target two years earlier than planned and has therefore increased the target by half to 9 per cent by 2014 relative to a 2008 baseline. In its 2012 financial year, the group’s airlines achieved overall efficiencies of 73g of CO2 emissions per revenue passenger kilometre. TUIfly was rated the most climate-efficient charter airline worldwide and Thomson Airways second most efficient airline for short-haul flights in the 2012 Airline Index published by German NGO atmosfair. Last year, the group launched a three-year plan to drive sustainability best practice across its global brands through challenging and measurable commitments, and a goal as the operator of Europe’s most fuel-efficient airlines.
Across TUI Travel’s airlines – ArkeFly, Corsair, Jetairfly, Thomson Airways, TUIfly and TUIfly Nordic – total carbon emissions in the 2012 financial year amounted to 5,248,262 tonnes, making up 90% of the global leisure group’s carbon footprint. The best performing in terms of carbon efficiency was TUIfly Nordic at 65.4g of CO2 per RPK.
According to its Sustainable Holidays Report 2012 just released, TUI Travel’s research estimates on a global basis, the average airline industry efficiency is around 110gCO2/RPK, with European scheduled airlines averaging 103.6 and European budget airlines 86.7.
This year, the group has seen the first arrival into the airline fleet of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which is expected to emit 20% less CO2 per passenger than current comparable aircraft. TUI has also committed to purchasing 60 fuel-efficient Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, with deliveries due to start in 2018. Jetairfly has introduced two fuel-efficient, low-noise level Embraer 190s into its fleet in 2013, becoming the first leisure airline in the world to operate this aircraft.
By last year, 89% of TUI Travel’s 141 aircraft had been fitted with fuel-saving winglets and it is a customer for Aviation Partners Boeing’s new Split Scimitar Winglets, which aim to reduce fuel burn by an additional 2% (see article).
Other contributions to the group’s improving carbon efficiency come from high passenger load factors and other fuel-saving measures. These include operational procedures such as single engine taxiing, continuous descent approaches and optimised flight planning. The weight of aircraft has been reduced through lighter catering trolleys, lighter seats and optimising the amount of water and goods carried onboard. Maintenance efficiencies carried out include engine wash programmes and the use of lighter paint and surface sealant applications that reduce aircraft drag.
The group has a dedicated resource in place for environmental management and fuel conservation in each airline, with regular meetings to share best practice. Enhanced fuel monitoring and management systems have been implemented in four airlines, with three airlines achieving the ISO 14001 environmental management standard.
TUI Travel says it has committed to trialling sustainable biofuels and adopting a long-term biofuels strategy. It is a member of the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group (SAFUG) and in Germany TUIfly co-project manages the Fuel Utilization Working Group of the Aviation Initiative for Renewable Energy (aireg).
In October 2011, Thomson Airways became the first UK airline to fly using a sustainable biofuel blend (see article).
“Whilst this project delivered on its ‘proof of concept’ objective, it also highlighted the complexities of bringing a new, sustainable alternative to jet fuel into the aviation market,” says the Sustainable Holidays Report. “Complexities include ensuring true sustainability at a large scale, consumer confidence in the sustainability criteria of the biofuel and achieving economic viability, all within the framework of a global industry.”
The group has also made a commitment to recycling cabin waste generated on board 50% of its airlines’ flights. However, it reports, this has proved an operational challenge because of space constraints, international legislation regarding catering waste and, in some cases, the slow progress made by destination airports to develop the infrastructure for recycling.
Three of its airlines recycled on-board cabin waste but, admits the report, “We still have work to do to increase the quantity of waste recycled and improve performance monitoring, as well as to develop recycling programmes with our other three airlines.”
Key achievements in 2012 include TUIfly Nordic recycling 74% of on-board waste, with cabin crew using an innovative digital app to record the amount of waste recycled on their flight, TUIfly recycling 1.2 million plastic bottles, equating to 60% of beverage containers, and Thomson Airways recycling the equivalent of 1.4 million cans.
Green business is good business, says TUI Travel, pointing to savings of £16 million ($25m) across the group during the 2012 financial year through environmental and energy efficiencies.
Travel and tourism are responsible for around 5% of global CO2 emissions, it says. “As a leading leisure travel company, our challenge is to prepare for a low carbon future by further reducing our environmental impacts and helping those in our value chain do the same,” says the report. “It makes sense both from a business and from an environmental perspective for us to embed carbon management into our key business practices.
“Predictable weather, comfort and an attractive local environment are critical factors in the quality of the holiday experiences we provide for our customers. Climate change could negatively impact on all three of these factors, and is therefore a business risk for TUI Travel.
“We have also identified climate change-related regulation as a material issue for the company. We monitor and are prepared for regulatory proposals on climate change – such as the EU Emissions Trading Scheme and upcoming UK Government mandatory greenhouse gas reporting requirements – that could have a fiscal and reputational impact on us.”
Jane Ashton, Director of Group Sustainable Development at TUI Travel, commented: “In this report we outline TUI Travel’s first year of progress against the 2012-14 Sustainable Holidays Plan. Many of our targets are on track, but some are proving challenging, and in those instances we will re-double our efforts to make further progress by 2015.”