Airline Industry Aims for Fewer Emissions

Airline Industry Aims for Fewer Emissions

Passenger and cargo traffic for U.S. airlines grew more than 20 percent between 2000 and 2007 while fuel consumption shrank nearly 3 percent, according to its trade group.

In its 2008 annual report, the Air Transport Association said the industry produced 11.2 billion pounds fewer carbon dioxide emissions in 2007 compared to 2000. Overall, aviation produces 2 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

The sector improved fuel efficiency 110 percent since 1978. The run-up in fuel prices has lent the industry new urgency in finding ways of operating more efficiently, including retiring old aircraft, cutting aircraft weight and retrofitting planes with winglets.

It plans to improve fuel efficiency 30 percent by 2025. The ATA advocates modernizing the air traffic control system, which it says could boost efficiency another 15 percent.  According to ATA, the proposed NextGen system would increase efficiency by leveraging commercial air/ground digital communications, improve navigation capabilities and streamline traffic flows. ATA said it would reduce congestion and provide for additional capacity, especially in the most heavily trafficked regions.

The ATA argued that any additional fees and taxes on the industry would hinder its efforts at reducing its environmental footprint because of profit margin pressures from rising fuel costs and slowing global economy. It is resisting European Union plans of including aviation emissions in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme.