Australia’s Virgin Blue has thrown its support behind Sir Richard Bransons global call to reduce aircraft fuel emissions.
The six year old airline which already operates one of the world’s most fuel efficient fleets, will target up to 5% further reduction of aircraft emissions per aircraft by 2008 and will commit to work proactively with energy providers to support the development and trialling of new green fuels.
Chief Executive, Brett Godfrey, said “We wholeheartedly endorse Sir Richard’s sustainable aviation vision.
“As an airline we are well aware of the complexity of the challenge - to meet burgeoning global travel demands, and reduce aircraft emissions and environmental impact at the same time.
“Naturally there’s a commercial benefit to operating a fuel efficient fleet but the larger responsibility is related to climate change. It is time critical and no airline, airport, Government, regulator, environmental group or energy provider can solve it alone.
“Virgin Blue is making steps in the right direction but we believe there is more we can do.
“We are prepared to set ourselves a challenge to further reduce our own emissions and we are willing to consider investment in initiatives which support development of alternative fuel technologies or changes in aviation operational processes” he added.
“We don’t profess to have all the answers, we are aiming to find a cleaner, smarter solution and we unashamedly acknowledge we are getting on the bandwagon. We are simply saying, we’re committed and hope the industry climbs on as well,” he said.
Virgin Blue already operates the most efficient, technologically advanced fleet in Australia with lower environmental impacts, achieved through aircraft design, new technology engines and blended winglets to contribute to lower fuel burn efficiencies.
The airline has achieved a 15% reduction in aircraft carbon emission output per aircraft following its decision in 2001 to replace its launch fleet with all new Boeing 737 Next Generation (NG) aircraft. Under its New World Carrier strategy Virgin Blue formed a Fuel Management Group to examine aircraft fuel utilisation and greenhouse gas reductions through fuel burn efficiency.
The group has completed a comprehensive study of Virgin Blues fuel management practices and has launched a program to achieve even greater operational efficiency through factors ranging from APU (auxiliary power unit) usage and more efficient flightpaths, to aircraft weight reduction.
As part of its company-wide commitment to protection of the environment, Virgin Blue has also introduced the first of a series of initiatives including:
Development of minimisation and recycling strategies for office, airport and aircraft waste;
Design of Virgin Blues new $25-million Brisbane maintenance hangar to include eco-efficiency features such as an integrated waste management program, high efficiency lighting and 50,000 litre rainwater recycle system for aircraft washing;
Incorporation of eco-efficiency initiatives such as environmentally sustainable development (ESD) rated products, high energy lighting, low emission paints in the airlines new offices and airport lounges;
Development of environmental management plans for mainline ports;
Active participation along with airport authorities, regulatory agencies and community groups to manage aircraft noise abatement;
Implementation of eco-efficiency initiatives in partnership with Planet Ark and Lexmark;
Recycling of desktop and laptop computers through Green PC.