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 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%.

Evaluates the trajectory of GHG emissions from international aviation in the U.S. and Canada as well as the possible GHG reductions that could be made from deployment of alternative jet fuels (AJFs) within the framework of the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA).

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
2017.12.14

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%.

Publication: White paper
2017.06.14
Why aren’t we seeing more radically fuel-efficient aircraft, the way we're seeing more efficient cars and trucks? You can get a lot of different answers to that question, depending on who you ask.
Blog Post
2017.05.30

Evaluates the trajectory of GHG emissions from international aviation in the U.S. and Canada as well as the possible GHG reductions that could be made from deployment of alternative jet fuels (AJFs) within the framework of the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA).

Publication: Briefing
2017.03.22
Evaluates the potential for alternative jet fuels (AJFs) to decarbonize the aviation sector and the risks associated with those fuels’ sustainability, costs and barriers to commercialization. 
Publication: White paper
2016.10.03
Optimism is growing for a potential deal at ICAO’s 39th Assembly this week on a global market-based measure (MBM) to price carbon emissi
Blog Post
2016.09.27

Finds that fuel consumption of new aircraft designs could be cut by 25% in 2024 and 40% in 2034 using cost-effective emerging technologies—double the rate of improvement seen in designs coming from manufacturers now in response to market forces alone.

Publication: Report

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