Greenhouse gas emissions down in 2009 but overall fuel efficiency fails to improve at American Airlines
American Airlines Boeing 767-300 fitted with fuel-saving winglets
Thu 24 June 2010 – Combined jet fuel related greenhouse gas emissions at American Airlines and its affiliate American Eagle fell by 7.1 percent in 2009 compared to 2008, reports the second annual Corporate Responsibility Report just published by parent company AMR. However, fuel efficiency across passenger and cargo operations expressed in metric tonnes of CO2e per 1,000 revenue ton miles (RTMs) decreased slightly last year. The amount of carbon emissions per RTM flown in 2009 increased from 1.80 CO2e per 1,000 RTMs to 1.82 CO2e per 1,000 RTMs, which is blamed on a heavy fall in cargo carried. On the positive side, American’s Fuel Smart programme saved over 100 million gallons of fuel in 2009 through ongoing initiatives.
Other achievements listed in the report include an annual saving of over $10 million through energy-saving initiatives implemented by AMR’s Utilities Management Council and a reduction of 80% in ozone depleting substances through the replacement of certain industrial cleaning products.
According to US Department of Transportation statistics, American Airlines used just over 2.5 billion gallons of jet fuel during 2009 at a cost of $4.85 billion. Due to falling oil prices, the 7% drop in fuel helped contribute to a considerable 39% overall saving in fuel costs. In 2008, the airline used 2.7 billion gallons of fuel at a cost of nearly $8 billion.
American Airlines is looking to its narrowbody fleet replacement programme to make further improvements in its fuel efficiency. In 2009, the airline took delivery of 31 Boeing 737s, which are expected to be 35% more efficient than the MD-80s they are replacing. It is due to add 45 more 737s this year and eight more in 2011. Winglets have also been installed on all 737 and 757 aircraft and 15% of the 767-300 fleet.
Two areas considered will make additional fuel and emissions savings for the airline in the future, according to the report, are alternative fuels and optimal flight planning and routing.
American is testing next-generation technology and procedures in conjunction with the Atlantic Interoperability Initiative to Reduce Emissions (AIRE) programme, and this year has become the first US airline to conduct tests on transatlantic routes. Last December, American joined with other airlines in an agreement with AltAir and Rentech to purchase future supplies of alternative fuels (see story).
The Fuel Smart programme includes initiatives such as the implementation of a Dynamic Cost Index to determine an aircraft’s optimal flight speed, use of area navigation (RNAV) to optimize arrival and departure routings, and reduction of total aircraft weight by modifying catering cart materials, removing unnecessary items and eliminating unneeded potable water carried on flights.
American has changed the way it calculates its total carbon footprint to that of the Environment Protection Agency’s Climate Leaders methodology, which incorporates different emissions factors and additional sources than were used in previous years, rendering the 2009 emissions data non-comparable to earlier years. Direct greenhouse gas emissions (Scope 1), which are related to jet fuel consumption and measured in CO2e, for 2009 stood at 26.9 million metric tonnes. Indirect emissions (Scope 2) added an additional 500,000 tonnes.
In 2009, American recycled 45.49 million pounds (20,600 tonnes) of metals and other items, including just over a million pounds (470 tonnes) of paper.
“In our view, corporate responsibility and financial success go hand in hand,” says American Airlines CEO Gerard Arpey in his introduction to the report. “To illustrate, when we consume less fuel, we lower our greenhouse gas emissions and cut costs at the same time. When our workforce truly reflects the diversity of the customers we serve, we better anticipate and serve their needs. And when we fly in and out of our 250 communities around the world, we enrich lives, drive economic growth and make the world a smaller, more tolerant and peaceful place.”