Despite the fact that flying causes environmental problems, it is still gaining popularity through the years. Airlines are taking actions, and so can the passengers.
Flight may be the least environmentally friendly way to travel. Aeroplanes burn fossil fuels to fly, which produces carbon dioxide, water vapour and other greenhouse gases such as nitric oxide. These emission gases contribute to climate change, global dimming and ocean acidification. Statista data shows that global aviation fuel consumption has increased every year since 2009, projected to climb up to a record-high 97 billion gallons in 2019. Behind the increase of fuel consumption is a ten-year continuous rise in passenger demand for air travel.
Aviation also emits more greenhouse gases per passenger than any other transportation. According to Science Focus a Boeing 747 burns 7840kg of fossil fuel to take-off, climb and descend – which covers roughly 250km – and if you travel longer than that, 10.1kg fuel is needed per additional km under standard cruising mode. In comparison, a Ford Mondeo 1.8TDCi could cover 650km with 151g CO2 emissions. Basically, one plane’s CO2 emission is equivalent to that of 366 cars.
However, a number of international airlines have taken steps towards being more sustainable and environmentally friendly.
China West Air, one of the Atmosfair’s most eco-friendly airlines of 2019, has bought in a A320neo aircraft which could lower fuel use and carbon emission by 15% and introduced waste sorting in flights.
Singapore Airlines too is developing low-carbon and renewable aviation fuel from environmentally sustainable sources.
TUI Airways, which is now 24% more carbon-efficient than the six largest European airlines, is determined to reduce the carbon emissions of its operations by 10% in 2020.
United Airlines launched the “Flight For The Planet” which would burn carbon-neutral biofuel, saving 3.3% of fuel, 33% of water and cutting 40 tonnes of carbon dioxide in comparison to a standard flight.
Jetblue has bought 2.3 billion pounds of CO2 offsets to reduce the carbon footprint from the airline. It will continue to invest in fuel saving technology, renewable jet fuel and new efficient engine options.
As well as airlines, individual passengers too can contribute to eco-flying by following Finnair’s tips. Travellers can check the emission calculators on the internet to choose the lowest emitting airline for their trip and choose airlines with a modern aircraft fleet that has better fuel-efficiency. In addition, travellers should go by train or car for short distances and take a direct flight for medium distances, but the eco-friendly option for very long flights is to stop on the way because the long trip would consume extra fuel to fly. Besides, travellers should change their airline at an uncongested airport because the aircraft would burn additional fuel circling for available Mega-Hubs.
There is no denying the aviation industry’s positive side and that our society has benefited in terms of travel, transportation and the global economy, and it will remain as a significant role in our society. Although as the greenhouse gas emission increase continues, airlines have taken actions to be more eco-friendly, and individual passenger’s efforts count too. After all, many a little makes a mickle.