Photo: Enos Moura Filho
Germany’s second largest airline airberlin managed to improve its fuel overall efficiency in 2011 by 1.5 per cent compared to the previous year. The carrier says it achieved an average specific fuel consumption of 3.5 litres per 100 passenger kilometres flown, which it claims is the lowest of any European network carrier, and compares to 3.6 litres per 100PKM in 2010.
The savings in 2011 amounted to nearly 19,800 tonnes of fuel, corresponding to a reduction of 62,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. Airberlin’s fleet is largely made up of Boeing 737-700 and -800 aircraft fitted with winglets, although it also operates Airbus A320 and A330, Embraer E-190 and Bombardier Q400 aircraft. “Environmental protection has become one of the criteria of competitiveness,” said airberlin CEO Hartmut Mehdorn.
“The careful use of resources leads to a sustainable reduction in costs and has a beneficial impact on the environment. Customers view this as providing added value, an area which airberlin would like to develop further.” The airline has around 170 aircraft in its fleet, with an average age of just five years, well below the industry average. It also has the new Boeing 787 on order for delivery in 2014, which is expected to reduce fuel and emissions by around 20% compared to current similar-sized aircraft.
All newly delivered Airbus and Boeing short-haul aircraft are equipped with ‘Tech Insertion’ engines from CFM International that release 15-20% less NOx. The airline also says its planes are significantly quieter than comparably older versions – a major factor in its favour, it argues, since the airline uses mainly airports in central locations.
According to the airline, more than 30 individual measures made up last year’s fuel efficiency programme, including improving the loading concept, reducing weight by using lighter equipment and the restricted use of thrust reversers. It reports that a large contribution was made by adopting measures that provide more precise and up-to-date information for flight operations, such as weather, temperature or flight path.
The optimisation of flight times on turboprop and jet aircraft and a more refined approach to aircraft loading also helped to reduce fuel consumption, it adds. Airberlin has also standardised other measures with its partner airlines, such as the washing of engines.
With environmental protection “a top priority”, the company says it is aiming to reduce the average specific fuel consumption to 3.4 litres per 100PKM this year, amounting to an additional reduction of 100,000 tonnes of carbon emissions. In its 2011 sustainability report, airberlin’s much bigger German rival Lufthansa reported that its overall group fuel efficiency in 2010 was 4.20 litres per 100PKM, compared with 4.30 in 2009.