Boarding a fuel efficient future

With six airlines and 150 aircrafts, TUI Travel has a significant environmental impact, but as the aviation sector looks to a sustainable future the travel company is aiming to operate the most carbon efficient airlines in Europe, according to Jane Ashton.

The wide discrepancy in energy fuel efficiency information of different airlines has made it difficult for customers to decide on the most environmentally friendly flights and airlines.

TUI’s director of group sustainable development, Ashton, has called for all airlines to become far more transparent and provide clearer carbon reporting information to allow customers to make more sustainable decisions when choosing between airlines.

Ashton compares the lack of information provided by the aviation industry to the significant detail offered by the automotive industry.

“If you look at the car industry fuel efficiency information is a normal metric. When you buy a new car you will look at the fuel efficiency in terms of a key performance indicator that everybody uses along the same basis.

“But when you buy a flight, it not only isn’t shown but it’s actually quite difficult to find out this information from some airlines”.

Ashton added that a minority of airlines were not reporting on fuel efficiency at all.

Despite this, TUI travel is aiming to lead the way in sustainability and is working on several efficiency measures to keep ahead of the pack.

The company is tackling its environmental impact through operational improvements and fleet upgrades.

For example, TUI’s airlines have either achieved the environmental standard ISO14001 or are currently working towards it, which according to Ashton has been useful in helping identify fuel saving opportunities.

However, the company is also investing to ensure its airlines continue to reduce their impact.

“We are the first UK airline to take delivery of the Boeing 787’s – we will be taking on, in the next couple of months, the Dreamliner, which forecasts suggest will be around 20% more fuel efficient than any of today’s aircraft,” said Ashcroft.

TUI is also bringing in several other fuel efficient aircrafts to improve the overall fuel efficiency of its fleet but Ashcroft pointed out that fuel efficiency has been a part of the company’s strategy for some time.

“Lowering our average age of the fleets and operating those fleets to more than 90% load factors and employing a whole range of operational techniques to minimise fuel burn, has been very much a part of our airlines for a decade or so,” said Ashcroft.

Ashcroft explained that many of these measures were not statutory but they all made absolute business sense, especially with upcoming regulations being enforced.

“When regulation does come in, for instance the incorporation of aviation into the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, then those efficiency measures are rewarded because the charges of the scheme are based on fuel consumption,” she added.

Ashcroft was also concerned with the lack of Government coordination with the aviation industry on regulation being introduced next year, such as carbon reporting.

“There is little detail on the carbon reporting legislation and it would really help to have coordination from a Government perspective on the requirements for carbon reporting,” said Ahcroft.

TUI Travel has, however, been reporting on its carbon emissions for a number of years when the company emerged as a result of TUI Tourism and First Choice Holidays PLC merging in 2007.

Even before the merger, both companies were reporting on their carbon emissions making it a natural progression to carry on the practice with the emergence of the new company.

However, Ashcroft was adamant that a stronger coordinated approach from Government and further information on the legislation well in advance was essential.

Jane Ashcroft is the director of group sustainable development at TUI Travel

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