Posted by matt on Tuesday, June 28, 2011.

A new perspective on air travel management

These days more and more organizations are measuring the carbon impacts of employee air travel programs. That’s a good thing. Unfortunately, most are using a simplistic approach that leaves one of their hands tied when it comes to managing those programs for reduced carbon impact. Correcting this business intelligence shortfall is the focus of our latest research paper, an in-depth modeling analysis of more than a decade of global airline industry data.

Huffington Post ran an article on the report today, and the paper should speak for itself, but among the highlights are:

  • Huge efficiency variation. Fuel use per passenger per mile varies more than tenfold across the airline industry, a fact most carbon calculations ignore to their detriment in terms of reporting accuracy, and more importantly, in terms of carbon reduction opportunity.

  • New sustainability potential. Case studies of more than 300,000 employee flights at two major global corporations show that choosing carbon-efficient itineraries on existing routes, without cutting flights or increasing costs, can slash emissions by as much as 40%.

  • Real-world airline rankings. This study is far from the first to rank airlines on sustainability, but few predecessors have accounted for real-world passenger volumes, load factors, freight shares, aircraft efficiencies, seating configurations, and route characteristics to provide as accurate a rating. Ryanair leads the 20 largest airlines in the international market, followed by Singapore Airlines and Continental. In the U.S. domestic market, Continental comes first, followed by JetBlue and Frontier.

  • Revealing industry trends. Air travel efficiency has improved 20% since 2000, preventing the equivalent of an entire year’s worth of flights over that time, and saving airlines (and thus travelers) 33 billion dollars on jet fuel at a time both were struggling in an ailing economy.

We ran this analysis by turning our CM1 flight model on itself to process databases covering more than 9 billion passengers on 130 million worldwide flights over 10 years. That should be sufficient to qualify as data-driven decision making.

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Safety in Numbers is Brighter Planet's blog about climate science, Ruby, Rails, data, transparency, and, well, us.

Who's behind this?

We're Brighter Planet, the world's leading computational sustainability platform.

Who's blogging here?

  1. Patti Prairie CEO