JetBlue turns in impressive fuel efficiency gains but emissions continue to grow as a result of traffic growth
Fri 24 Apr 2015 – As a result of continued growth in traffic operations, JetBlue’s greenhouse gas emissions rose by 5.5% in 2014 over the previous year, although it recorded its best-ever fuel efficiency performance. Measured in terms of GHG emissions per 1,000 revenue ton miles, the airline managed a reduction from 1.65 tonnes of CO2e to 1.54 tonnes, a 6% improvement. According to its annual responsibility report, ‘The Blue Review’, just published, emissions rose from 5.9 million tonnes in 2013 to just over 6.2 million tonnes last year. However, against an industry target to improve average annual fuel efficiency by 1.5% from 2009 to 2020, JetBlue is currently averaging 2.2%. In addition to initiatives to reduce its carbon footprint from operations, the airline is engaged in programmes to improve onboard recycling and water conservation, and since 2008 has run an annual environment campaign called ‘One Thing That’s Green’ (see article).
In efforts to reduce the growth in emissions, JetBlue is investing in new aircraft and retrofitting its older models, with the aim of making its fleet one of the youngest and most fuel-efficient in the industry, it says. The airline currently operates 203 Airbus and Embraer narrow-body aircraft, with an average age of 7.2 years. It has 25 new engine option (NEO) A320 aircraft on order that are expected to begin arriving in 2020 and 45 A321NEOs due to join the fleet starting in 2018. This year, it plans to start retrofitting its entire A320 fleet with Sharklet wingtip extensions that should boost fuel efficiency by around 3% on long-haul flights.
To help meet its efficiency goals, the airline started an initiative last year called ‘Fuel is Everyone’s Business’, with staff implementing trials and procedures that have so far saved $2.5 million in fuel costs. One example is to reduce engine idling time, which can reduce fuel consumption by millions of pounds annually, it says. The airline also hosted a conference on fuel savings in 2014, in which pilots and flight dispatchers were brought together to discuss strategies to improve conservation. Presentations included opportunities to alter routing, descent times and fuel variation to reduce fuel usage.
JetBlue has also undertaken a trial to reduce the amount of potable water carried on flights by 25%. As a result, an estimated annual saving of 2.4 million gallons of water and 288,000 gallons of fuel was realised across the A320 fleet, and has now become best practice since last December.
What began as a grassroots effort by staff at Long Beach Airport in California a decade ago, onboard recycling is now a major undertaking by the airline. This has involved enhancing recycling capacity and bringing in new recycling infrastructure where needed across 50 of the airline’s domestic airports it serves, and now progress is being measured. During the first half of 2014, data was gathered from more than 10,000 domestic flights that showed a recycling adoption success rate of around 84%. At New York JFK alone, JetBlue recycled 1.2 million pounds (540 tonnes) of cardboard, plastic and aluminium that would otherwise have ended up in landfills.
As well as operating a customer carbon offset programme, JetBlue offsets the carbon emissions of staff business travel, which in 2014 amounted to around 44,800 tonnes of CO2. Since the programme started in 2008, more than 158,000 tonnes have been offset.
JetBlue says this year’s report is organised around the airline’s five core responsibility values: safety, caring, integrity, passion and fun. “JetBlue values are fundamental to who we are and how we operate,” commented CEO Robin Hayes. “It is only fitting that our approach to responsibility is based on these standards. Our mission is to inspire humanity in the air and on the ground. This only works if both crewmembers and customers believe in this mission. The Blue Review showcases our commitment to our crewmembers and the customers and communities that support us. Our core values help guide how we meet our corporate responsibility.”