UPS Airlines sets a new reduction goal to cut carbon emissions by an additional 20 percent by 2020
UPS Airlines Boeing 747-400 (photo: UPS)
Thu 9 July 2009 – Global freight and package delivery company UPS has announced it is intending to cut the carbon emissions of its airline by an additional 20% by 2020, representing a cumulative reduction of 42% across its fleet since 1990. UPS Airlines – which operates 282 aircraft, making it the ninth largest fleet in the world – claims to have the most fuel-efficient aircraft in the package airline sector. The carrier says in its latest Sustainability Report that its efficiency factor in 2008 was 1.42 CO2 lbs per available ton nautical mile and is now targeting a factor of 1.24 by 2020. As airline emissions make up 53% of the total UPS global carbon inventory, the company says the decision is critical to its overall environmental performance.
UPS expects to achieve its efficiency goal through three major areas: more fuel-efficient aircraft types and engines; fuel saving operational initiatives; and the introduction of biofuels. The target is the first of a series of carbon reduction goals that the company plans to set in the coming years, according to Bob Stoffel, UPS Senior Vice President and the executive responsible for the UPS sustainability programme.
In the report, UPS says its leadership ahead of the competition in terms of fuel efficiency is down to a 20-year commitment to upgrading its fleet. Citing an example, when regulations were introduced in the 80s to reduce noise levels the airline opted to re-engine its aircraft rather than take the less expensive hush-kitting option. Between 1985 and 2008, it says the decision saved more than 50 million gallons of fuel and more than 479,900 tonnes of CO2 emissions. Another decision in the 80s to purchase Boeing 757 aircraft rather than 727s led to savings in the 1995-2008 period of one billion gallons of fuel and 11 million tonnes of CO2.
In 2008, UPS retired its last 727s and also replaced 747-200s with 747-400s. The 747-400 was first added to its fleet in 2007 and UPS claims the 747-400 has the lowest operating cost per ton-mile of all freighters, with a fuel consumption 20% lower than the -200.
Other fuel saving initiatives include lower flight speeds, reduced flight segments where viable, computer-optimized flight plans, computer-managed aircraft taxi times and jet engine washing.
UPS says it has added biofuels to its long-term strategic plan and believes biofuels will become available before 2020.
In May, the CEO of arch-rival FedEx, Fred Smith, confirmed it too was targeting a 20% reduction in fuel and carbon emissions by 2020 from a similar base year (see article). Smith also outlined a ‘30 by 30’ goal which proposed that 30% of aviation fuel used by FedEx should come from alternative fuels by 2030. Last year, DHL set out a target to reduce the emissions of its aircraft fleet by 30% by 2020 with 2007 as the base year.