Leading European leisure group calls for greater airline industry transparency in carbon reporting
Tue 17 Sept 2013 – TUI Travel, which owns six European leisure airlines including Thomson Airways and TUIfly, has called for an industry standard on reporting fuel and carbon efficiency for UK airlines. A set of common metrics to report carbon emissions would ensure greater transparency so customers can make informed decisions about which airlines to choose, it argues. TUI Travel currently reports its airlines’ carbon emissions on a per revenue passenger kilometre (gCO2/RPK) basis, a common standard but, it points out, not yet the standard unit of measurement used by all airlines to communicate their efficiency, and it accuses some airlines of failing to measure or report their carbon emissions. New carbon reporting legislation has been announced by the UK government for the largest companies and the UK Civil Aviation Authority has been tasked with communicating the environmental impact of aviation.
“This new legislation presents a great opportunity for the airline industry to harmonise its reporting of carbon emissions and develop common metrics,” said Jane Ashton, Director of Sustainable Development at TUI Travel, a leading international leisure travel group serving more than 30 million customers.
According to research it carried out in December 2012, TUI Travel found that 50% of customers felt it was very important that their holiday company be more transparent about what it was doing to reduce its impact on the environment and to support local communities. Two thirds of customers stated issues about carbon emissions, climate change and pollution were very important to them, reports TUI Travel.
Adds Ashton: “It’s clear to us that our customers are starting to take this kind of information into account when booking holidays, which is why we believe we should be doing more as an individual company as well as an industry to make this type of information accessible and easy to understand.
“If all airlines were reporting on carbon emissions using consistent metrics and sources of measurement then we believe the government could start to use this information to adjust taxes that they are currently imposing on airlines.”
TUI Travel claims its airlines are among the most fuel-efficient in Europe, with average emissions of 73.0gCO2/RPK (see article).
The CAA has just closed a consultation into stakeholder views on how it should provide better information to the public on aviation performance, such as for consumers looking to make sustainable travel choices. The authority says consumer awareness of the CO2 impacts of aviation is rising and there is increasing availability of tools such as carbon calculators for individuals seeking to assess the environmental impact of their flights. However, it adds, there is no standard methodology behind these calculators, which can result in significantly different calculations of CO2 emissions and therefore lead to confusion and scepticism.
The CAA says it would prefer to develop its own standardised methodology for calculating CO2 emissions using factors such as actual fuel burn and passenger loads, which, it argues, would give significantly more accurate results. It then proposes to accredit operators using this standardised methodology, possible through the use of a ‘CAA CO2 endorsed’ brand or similar.
“It has the potential to provide customers with a comparable and trusted measure of carbon impact, allowing them to make more informed judgements when comparing the CO2 impact of different flights,” says the CAA consultation document. “The CAA metric will help drive the airline industry to provide the best possible estimation of the CO2 impact and in turn act as an incentive to reduce the CO2 emissions per passenger of their operations.”
Participation by industry in the scheme would initially be voluntary but, says the CAA, consideration could be given to making it mandatory “if poor comparability continues to be an issue with regard to the provision of emissions data.”
The CAA is due to issue a report on the consultation’s findings later in the year, although a CAA spokesman said it was unlikely more details of the metric would be presented by then.