Atmosfair ranked 125 airlines according to carbon emissions

The sky over Zaventem Branko Šabarić

TUI UK and Thomas Cook Airlines among the top 10
most CO2-efficient airlines in the world

Worldwide one in 10 airlines manage to keep its CO₂ emissions about constant despite economic growth. By increasing CO₂ efficiency those airlines nearly offset their growth in flown mileage. This is a first step to reach the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, calling for rapid and farreaching CO₂ reductions worldwide. However, the absolute carbon efficiency of these airlines is only average, showing the industries difficulty in constantly raising efficiency. These are results of the new Airline Index (AAI) 2018, presented on 8 December.

Among the few economically growing airlines with constant CO₂ emissions are Thai Airways, Finnair, American Airlines and All Nippon Airlines. Globally, CO₂ emissions from airlines grew by 5%, while the number of kilometres flown increased by 6%.

The AAI shows that new aircraft types such as Boeing 787-9, Airbus A350-900 or the A320neo can achieve fuel consumptions of less than 3.5 litres of kerosene per passenger and 100 kilometres, even on fuel-intensive long-haul routes. These new aircraft models considerably raise the bar in terms of carbon efficiency. Airlines that have not updated their fleets or have only made slight improvements have lost ground in the current AAI ranking. As these new aircraft models do not make up for the majority
of any fleet, not a single airline reaches efficiency class A, and only two airlines made it into efficiency class B (previous year: three).

Holiday airlines on top: The British TUI Airways takes first place in the ranking as in the previous year, reaching just under 80% of the feasible optimum of low CO₂ emissions. Fourth place goes to its German counterpart TUIFly, with Condor another German holiday flier made it into the top 10. Among the major scheduled airlines, the Chilean Brazilian LATAM leads internationally. Within the EU, the Spanish Air Europa and KLM follow.

China West Air ranks third in the overall standings. As a result, the regional airline is the first Chinese airline to remain permanently in the group of the best airlines. Of the top 50 most efficient airlines in the world, 14 are located in Europe, 10 in China.

Low-cost carriers are ranked in the AAI in a separate class. The reason: they often benefit from subsidies that allow them to offer artificially low ticket prices. This results in flight kilometres and therefore carbon emissions that otherwise would not have been produced. The best nine low-cost carriers are also found in efficiency class B, but the majority ended up in efficiency classes C and D.

The Atmosfair Airline Index (AAI) individually compares greenhouse gas emissions of 190 of the largest airlines in the world and evaluates their carbon efficiency. Overall, the AAI captures about 92% of worldwide air traffic which includes 33 million flights around the globe. The current calculations are based on the latest available data on worldwide aviation from 2016. In the AAI, every airline can score between 0 and 100 efficiency points, broken down into short, medium, and long flight distances. The AAI is based on the carbon emissions of a given airline per kilometre and passenger on all routes flown. The carbon emissions are calculated using the aircraft type, engines, use of winglets (aerodynamic wingtips), seating and freight capacity as well as the occupancy on every single flight. The data sources only include international organizations such as ICAO and IATA and a number of specialized data services of the aviation industry as well as computer models by aircraft engineers.

Compliance with the 2015 Paris Agreement to achieve the 1.5°C target requires that global carbon emissions reach their peak around 2020 and then begin to decrease. Air traffic is not directly regulated in the Paris agreement, while the new 2016 Montreal climate agreement of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) only takes effect gradually as of 2021.

— atmosfair