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.

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A sharp increase in revenue passenger miles drove both profits and fuel consumption on domestic operations up between 2014 and 2016 for U.S. airlines. Alaska Airlines again ranked first in overall fuel-efficiency, while the gap between it and the least fuel-efficient carrier, Virgin America in 2016, widened slightly to 26%.

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. 
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
2013.09.03
One of the more interesting phrases we’ve come across in aviation is selling “planes by the pound,” which is one way to think of Boeing’s and Airbus’s differing approaches for selling widebody aircraft for high capacity, short-distance r
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