Airlines start cutting emissions and raising efficiency

Once considered burdensome headaches, techniques to cut pollution and increase efficiency are now being embraced by many large airlines. Why? “It turns out that good environmental behavior is also cost-effective,” said Bengt-Olov Nas of Norway’s Scandinavian Airlines System. The principal driver is rising fuel costs: The price of refined jet kerosene has risen by about 60 percent since January, eroding airlines’ already-slim profit margins. In response, airlines are pushing to increase fuel efficiency and taking a number of steps to decrease waste: polishing planes to reduce scratches that increase drag, painting planes lighter colors to reduce heat absorption, and reducing weight via lighter seats and less onboard water and fuel. Also, various airlines are lobbying for more direct flight paths and the opening of some military flight space, and trying to reduce taxiing and in-flight delays. Unlike other cost-cutting measures — like, say, firing people — these measures are supported by just about everybody, including passengers and unions.