Green Markets

EWN Publishing

Melbourne-Sydney flight creates over 80kg greenhouse gas per passenger; green practices help airlines save money, and gain credits

Posted by gmarkets on 20 September, 2007

The airline industry was likely to be included in the Australian carbon trading system, unlike Europe, which at first exempted the industry and was now just considering its inclusion, reported The Australian (15/9/2007, p. 39). Good business: While the Virgin offset program was sanctioned under the Government Greenhouse Office, Qantas would effectively outsource its program to AGL. Big energy companies could maximise their own efforts even as they developed a niche business by doing the offset work for others, and taking a cut on the way through.

Virgin not entirely green: A Melbourne-Sydney return flight emitted some 10 to 15 tonnes of carbon dioxide, which worked out at about 82kg per passenger each way. The Virgin scheme would charge the customer an extra $1.40 to offset their emissions. While spruiking the scheme, some at Virgin complain the airline would cut costs in other ways that were decidedly environmentally unfriendly. A flight from, say, Melbourne to Launceston would be overloaded with fuel on the way down to save refilling in Tasmania at higher prices.

New techniques save money: Still, the industry was working in the right direction for the obvious reason that it saved it money, The Australian said. The wing tips that folded up at the end were aerodynamically efficient and helped cut fuel consumption, as did painting the planes with a smooth coating. The wing tips, known as winglets, cut fuel consumption by 3 per cent. A smooth coat of paint also meant planes did not have to be washed very often, which saved thousands of litres of water every month. New jet engines, instead of old mechanical pumps, powered electric pumps to circulate air.

The Australian, 15/9/2007, p. 39

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