The International Council for Clean Transportation (ICCT) has published a detailed study highlighting a 26% gap in fuel-efficiency between US carriers on domestic routes. The study, the first to quantify the performance of carriers using publicly available data while accounting for differences in business operations across airlines, showed that Alaska Airlines was the most-fuel efficient mainline carrier in 2010.
The ICCT analysis employs a new methodology, developed by a team of researchers at FAA’s National Center of Excellence for Aviation Operations Research (NEXTOR) at the University of California, Berkeley, permitting a precise distinction between fuel burned to provide a given level of service and fuel burned as a result of inefficiencies, such as the use of older technology, circuitous routing, or taxiing with two engines instead of one.
Mazyar Zeinali, one of the report’s coauthors, noted “Fuel costs are a big concern for airlines now, but these numbers raise real questions about the conventional wisdom that fuel costs by themselves act as a sufficient incentive to drive efficiency in this sector.” This conclusion reinforces the need for the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to address technical and operational inefficiencies through the establishment of an aircraft CO2 emission standard and a market-based measure to impose a price on carbon emissions.
The study will be updated annually to show trends in fuel-efficiency and will be of interest to a wide audience including consumers, travel buyers, institutional investors, academics and policy-makers.