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.

Most Recent

Compares the fuel efficiency of 20 airlines operating nonstop flights between the mainland United States and Europe.

Compares the fuel efficiency of 20 airlines operating nonstop flights between the mainland United States and East Asia and Oceania and extends the previous transatlantic fuel efficiency methodology to the transpacific market.

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%.

2018.12.10
In our recent transatlantic airline fuel efficiency study update, we compared the fuel efficiency of 20 airlines with routes between the Unit
Blog Post
2018.10.10
There’s an old saw, most famously attributed to Benjamin Franklin, that nothing in life is certain but death and taxes.
Blog Post
2018.09.28
In 2016, Sir Richard Branson, president of Virgin Atlantic Airways, announced that the Virgin Group would assist aviation
Blog Post
2018.09.11

Compares the fuel efficiency of 20 airlines operating nonstop flights between the mainland United States and Europe.

Publication: White paper
2018.04.24
In the first quarter of 2016, both Delta Air Lines and United Airlines ended all flights from the U.S. to the Persian Gulf.
Blog Post
2018.01.16

Compares the fuel efficiency of 20 airlines operating nonstop flights between the mainland United States and East Asia and Oceania and extends the previous transatlantic fuel efficiency methodology to the transpacific market.

Publication: White paper

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