Canada-U.S. transborder airline fuel-efficiency ranking

Published: 2017.12.27
By

Chaoqi Liu, Anastasia Kharina

More than 27 million passengers flew between the United States and Canada in 2016, and this number is expected to double in two decades. Despite regulatory efforts to curb aviation emissions, policymakers and consumers often lack access to information that would help them choose less-polluting carriers and flights. As an effort to close this gap, we compared the fuel efficiency of airlines serving 10 transborder routes between Canada and the United State for the 12 months between March 2016 and February 2017. 

Highlights:

  • The average fuel efficiency for different routes varies from as low as 12 pax-km/L (Vancouver-Seattle) to as high as 32 pax-km/L (Montreal-Miami). Or in other words: in general, flying short distances are much more fuel intensive than flying longer distances.
  • Fuel efficiency gaps between the best- and worst- performing airlines (ranging between 6% and 36% depending on route) indicate that there is room for improvement.
  • Most of the fuel efficiency gaps can be explained by the use of different aircraft types. On longer routes, airlines flying single-aisle aircraft are more likely to record better fuel efficiency than those flying regional jets. On shorter routes, airlines that fly turboprops are more efficient than airlines that fly regional jets.
  • On comparable routes where passengers have the option to take different modes of transportation, flying is more fuel-intensive than any other mode.
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