New research from Liligo.co.uk reveals that low-cost airlines are a greener option
Delegates at this week's UN Climate Change conference in Copenhagen should look closer at low-cost airlines when discussing the impact of flights on climate change. By choosing to take low cost budget flights, instead of business class on traditional airlines, they could be reducing their own flight carbon footprint by over 30%.
Analysis from the travel search engine Liligo.co.uk (www.liligo.co.uk) has shown that low-cost airlines offer a lower carbon footprint to travellers due to a number of factors:
o Budget airlines fit more seats in their planes. For instance, easyJet's fleet mainly comprises of Airbus 320 aircraft fitted with 180 seatsa. The standard Airbus 320 configuration comprises of 150 seatsb, whereas British Airways using the same aircraft have them fitted with 134 seats (in a two-class configuration)c.
o Budget airlines fill more seats thanks to lower prices. In the 12 months running up to September 2009, the yield factor for easyJet was around 85%d. The average for BA on European routes was around 75%e.
o Budget airlines focus on short haul. Although budget airlines have more flights and move more passengers, they emit less emissions. A good proxy for carbon footprint is the available seat kilometre (ASK) of the airline: British Airwaysf has an ASK two and half times that of easyJet, even though easyJetg carried 30% more passengers than BA in 2009.
o Budget airlines have newer planes; hence they are able to enjoy the fuel efficiency gains of modern engines. The average fleet age for Ryanair is under 3 yearsh whereas the average age of BA's fleeti is over 3 times older!
Liligo.co.uk's calculations show that, such points considering, the average economy class passenger could reduce their carbon footprint around 20% by flying easyJet over British Airways in Europe.
Gbenga Kogbe, UK Manager, Liligo.co.uk, commented: "For a long time the popularity of low-cost airlines has been attacked by environmental campaigners, but our analysis reveals that low-budget airlines are conveying passengers with a lower carbon footprint than many other airlines. Interestingly, their drive for cost-savings also makes these airlines far more carbon efficient."
Different classes of passenger comfort, airport delays and higher ticket prices resulting in less emptier flights may be just as culpable for CO2 levels as the increased popularity of flying that budget airlines have brought about.
Gbenga Kogbe of Liligo.co.uk concludes: "Our analysis shows that the environmental stigma of budget travel may be unwarranted. Not only do budget carriers operate more efficiently, travel search engines like Liligo.co.uk can inform travellers of the environmental impact of their journey - integrating carbon footprints alongside prices in search results. Travel deal hunters can now assess both the financial and environmental costs of travelling with low cost airlines, traditional airlines and charter flight companies. While, they are seeking the best prices and they can think CO2 too."