Aviation emissions not reducing fast enough

will boeing dreamliner see aviaition emissions drop?

Just last week Thomson Airways took delivery of the first of its new Boeing 787 Dreamliners at Manchester Airport, the first of eight which it has ordered. This is the first 787 to be delivered to a UK airline. Its arrival was delayed by the problems Boeing has with batteries overheating, however they have now been redesigned and refitted across the fleet. Thomson’s first commercial long-haul Dreamliner flights will operate on July 8th, carrying 291 passengers, from Manchester to Florida and from Glasgow to Cancun.

The 787 Dreamliner will offer greater comfort for passengers; Thomson says that its passengers will experience unparalleled levels of comfort with the 787’s improved lighting, bigger windows, larger overhead bins, lower cabin altitude and enhanced ventilation systems.

The environment will also benefit through reduced aviation emissions. The 787 is claimed to be the most technologically advanced and fuel efficient commercial jetliner ever built. Claiming to be superefficient with new engine technology, the plane is reported to use 20% less fuel than similar sized existing aircraft.

Thomson is part of TUI Travel, which has announced that it plans to buy a further 60 Boeing 737 MAX Aircraft to be delivered between 2018 and 2023, with an option for up to a further 90 aircraft.  This is such a major investment, £4bn, that TUI will need explicit shareholder approval.

This investment determines the shape of TUI’s air operations through to middle of the century, an investment decision which truly shapes the future.

A sustainable future for aviation?

The 737 MAX is expected to make its first flight in 2016 with the first deliveries to airlines towards the  end of 2017. Boeing anticipates that the new engines on the 737 MAX will reduce fuel burn and aviation emissions by 13% over today’s most fuel-efficient single-aisle airplanes. Boeing claims that when “compared to a fleet of 100 of today’s most fuel-efficient airplanes, this new model will emit 286,000 fewer tons of CO2 and save nearly 200 million pounds of fuel per year, which translates into more than $100 million in cost savings*. The 737 MAX 8’s fuel burn is expected to be 8 per cent per-seat lower than the future competition.”

I blogged a couple of weeks ago about the importance of flying more efficiently, about Flying Smart . And we debated last year at WTM whether the industry was doing enough to reduce it carbon emissions. The audience then certainly felt that it was not. This year at WTM we have a panel on decarbonising travel and tourism – by then we shall know more about the European and/or global future of the Emissions Trading Scheme and its impact on aviation.

However with the long lead times before fuel efficient aircraft make up a majority of the world’s operating fleets, and IATA’S forecast growth in passenger aviation of 28.5% between 2012 and 2016, the technological gains in fuel efficiency are not matching the increase in flying.  In short, the industry is still failing to reduce aviation emissions anywhere near fast enough.

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Harold is Professor of Responsible Tourism at Manchester Metropolitan University, where he teaches and researches in the Centre for Responsible Tourism. Harold researches on tourism, local economic development and poverty reduction, conservation and responsible tourism and teaches Masters and PhD students. as well as the industry, local communities, governments, and conservationists. Harold also undertakes consultancy and evaluations for companies, NGOs, governments, and international organisations. He is also a Director of the International Centre for Responsible Tourism which he founded in 2002 and which promotes the principles of the Cape Town Declaration.

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