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In 2011 the ICCT began studying airline operations to provide consumers, researchers, and policymakers with better information about airline efficiency and CO2 emissions. Our initial focus has been on the U.S. domestic market, which currently accounts for approximately one-quarter of global aviation CO2 emissions. Aviation fuel use in the U.S., moreover, is projected to grow almost 2% annually for the next 20 years. Working with researchers at the FAA’s National Center of Excellence for Operations (NEXTOR) at UC Berkeley, we developed a novel statistical approach allowing an apples-to-apples comparison of fuel efficiency independent of airline size, operating structure, and business model.
Fuel accounts for about a third of an airline’s operating costs, creating an incentive for airlines to manage their fuel consumption through technological and operational improvements. Nonetheless, our annual fuel efficiency rankings have identified a large (~26%) and stable fuel efficiency gap among U.S. domestic airlines, falling gains from fuel efficiency for U.S. airlines over time, and little correlation between the profitability an airline and its overall fuel efficiency. The research highlights the importance of effective policies to help constrain aviation emissions growth domestically and internationally.
Finds that fuel consumption of new aircraft designs could be cut by 25% in 2024 and 40% in 2034 using cost-effective emerging technologies—double the rate of improvement seen in designs coming from manufacturers now in response to market forces alone.
This study is an extension of ICCT’s work benchmarking U.S. airline fuel efficiency on domestic operations since 2010.
Annual update to ICCT's ranking of U.S. airlines by fuel efficiency on domestic operations. The gap between most- and least-efficient airlines narrowed slightly to 25%, and overall industry fuel efficiency improved by 1.7%.
First place is a three-way tie between Alaska, Spirit, and Frontier, but overall the fuel efficiency of U.S. domestic airlines showed no improvement in 2013. The slowing efficiency gains since 2010 highlight the need for policies to reduce aviation carbon emissions.