July 8, 2022

Frontier calls itself ‘the greenest airline in America’, having run a lot of its marketing around that claim. But how true is it really?

In fact, according to aviation analysts IBA, Frontier is North America’s most efficient (domestic) LCC, and the most efficient airline overall.

Like many other LCCs, Frontier operates newer aircraft with of course a higher seat density. The average fleet age is just 4.2 years, and IBA says that 70% of the Frontier fleet are CFM LEAP-1A powered, high density Airbus A320neo aircraft with 186 seats.

As a result, Frontier has scope one CO2 emissions of just 114 grams per seat mile.

The best full service carrier is Alaska Airlines with 128 grams of CO2 per-seat per-mile in May 2022. Again, Alaska has a high seat density in its 737s, and with the 23 new generation 737 MAX 9 aircraft, better overall efficiency.

Meanwhile IBA gives Air Canada a notable mention thanks to a 17% reduction in short haul carbon emissions observed since 2019, due in part to a fleet renewal.

Volotea gets credit in Europe

In the European market, IBA credits Volotea with showing the biggest improvement in CO2 emissions among short haul airlines, with a decrease of 14% since 2019.

Over the past five years, the airline has run 50 initiatives to reduce fuel consumption in the past 5 years, most notably replacing its Boeing 717s with a 100% Airbus A319-320 fleet.

(Above image from IBA)

At SimpliFlying, we try and absorb the arguments of climate change activists. After all, if you don’t know what they are saying, and what their end game is, you can’t really respond.

As a result, it was insightful to read a post by Sophia Cheng from Flight Free – an organisation, which as the name suggests, wants people to commit to stop flying.

Sophia Cheng visited the Change Now exhibition and conference in Paris, with an eye on seeing what sustainability solutions would be presented by the aviation industry.

Cheng was sceptical about SAF, even asking if waste to fuel plants “incentivise consumption.”

Similarly, she had questions about battery capacity for electric aircraft (which is a fair question) and asked where the raw materials would come from – “the extraction of raw materials from foreign countries to fuel our consumption in the West is rarely clean.”

The point Cheng kept coming back to was growth – her view, and that of many climate change groups, is that there needs to be a cap on aviation growth, and what we saw during the pandemic, a reduction in flying, should be permanent.

That seems a key argument that the industry needs to tackle. Not only how can we reduce carbon emissions, but how can we reduce emissions and plan for substantial growth over the coming decades, when as Cheng points out, legacy aircraft are still being made now and will be with us for a while to come.

(Top image from Flight Free)

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