Topics / Airline fuel efficiency

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.

Most Recent

Evaluates the trajectory of GHG emissions from international aviation in the U.S. and Canada as well as the possible GHG reductions that could be made from deployment of alternative jet fuels (AJFs) within the framework of the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA).

Evaluates the potential for alternative jet fuels (AJFs) to decarbonize the aviation sector and the risks associated with those fuels’ sustainability, costs and barriers to commercialization. 

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.

2014.11.19

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.

Publication: White paper
2014.05.30
A couple of weeks ago Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, introduced in its new Airbus A380 jumbo jets “The Residence”, a
Blog Post
2014.05.21

A webinar introducing ICCT’s ranking of U.S. domestic airline fuel efficiency both overall and at the route level for the period of 2010-2012.

 

Event
2014.05.05
The gap between the most fuel-efficient and least fuel-efficient airlines on U.S. domestic operations stayed rock-steady at 26% from 2010 to 2012.
Blog Post
2014.04.30

Updates a benchmarking study of airlines' fuel efficiency in 2010. Overall, the fuel efficiency of U.S. airlines on domestic operations improved 2.3% from 2010 to 2012, not enough to meet U.S. greenhouse gas reduction goals, and the gap between best and worst did not change.

Publication: White paper
2013.09.10

Quantifies the gaps in overall in-service fuel-efficiency between U.S. domestic passenger airlines, using publicly available data and accounting for differences in business operations across airlines.

Publication: Report
2013.09.10

Employs ratio-based, deterministic, and stochastic frontier approaches to assess the fuel efficiency of fifteen large jet operators in the United States.

Publication: Consultant report

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