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As world leaders and global organizations finalize plans to address climate change in the wake of the Paris Climate Conference, German NGO has published the results of its annual atmosfair Airline Index (AAI), which compares the greenhouse gas emissions of nearly 200 airlines around the world.
The best performing large commercial airlines in the 2015 study are airberlin (Germany), Air Transat (Canada) and TAM Linhas Aéreas (Brazil). The airlines, which ranked 8th, 9th and 12th respectively on the overall list, were the most fuel-efficient airlines in the large, international airline category.
airberlin, Germany's second largest airline, which handles more than one million passengers annually, took the top slot among the world's major airlines. With one of the youngest fleets in Europe, airberlin was recognized for its low CO2 emissions and excellent efficiency. The airline also operates an ambitious "Eco-Efficient Flying" Programme, comprised of more than 55 measures, including continuous training of cockpit crews in eco-efficient flying as well as aircraft modernization. In 2012, these measures helped reduce the airline's CO2 output by more than 100,000 tons.
Canada's Air Transat, the only North American airline in Atmosfair's Top 10, has earned a slot on this prestigious list for the fifth consecutive year. The airline carries some three million passengers annually, servicing nearly 60 destinations in 30 countries.
"(These results) confirm the effectiveness of the environmental measures we are putting in place, and encourage us to keep up our efforts to reduce fuel consumption," said Jean-François Lemay, General Manager, Air Transat. "Our fuel management program, which is one of the best in the industry, has brought about an annual 5 percent decrease in consumption since 2003, and we feel we can decrease it by another 1 percent."
Air Transat has rolled out numerous initiatives that are aimed at reducing its greenhouse gas emissions. These measures include implementing reliable fuel management technology, reducing aircraft weight, optimizing flight plans and ground operations and progressive installation of innovative winglets. Additionally it manages a fleet with a greater proportion of more energy-efficient Airbus A330 and Boeing 737 aircraft.
For the 2015 study, atmosfair calculated its results based on flights from 2013. In total, atmosfair evaluated 31.5 million flights, nearly 92 per cent of the world's total air traffic.
The study also revealed that while the world's largest airlines have reduced their CO2 emissions by nearly 2 per cent in one year (calculated per passenger and kilometer), global air traffic (passengers and kilometers) grew by some four percent, which resulted in a net increase by two per cent in total airline emissions.
"With its emissions, the aviation industry remains far from a development path that would limit global warming to at most 2 degrees Celsius," said Dietrich Brockhagen, Managing Director of atmosfair.
The index calculates CO2 emissions for all routes flown, taking into account aircraft type, engines, the use of winglets or sharklets (aerodynamic wing tips), seating and cargo capacity for every individual flight. Data sources include international organisations such as ICAO and IATA, certain specialist aviation data service providers and the computer models by aircraft engineers.
The atmosfair Airline Index is designed to help travellers choose airlines based on their CO2 emission levels. The companies that stand out are those that strive to reduce their emissions, especially by reducing their fuel consumption, using modern fleets adapted to their routes and maximizing airplane loads.
Monica Poling, the evening and weekend editor at TravelPulse.com, has been writing about travel for more than 20 years....
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