easyJet gets fired up on emissions

On the day that easyJet collected its 100th Airbus 319 in Hamburg, the airline called on European governments to remove almost 700 of the oldest, dirtiest aircraft from Europe’s skies by banning any aircraft built before 1990 from operating within the European Union after 1st January 2012.The company released the following statement:

Through the 1970s and 1980s, the industry was able to substantially reduce noise emissions from aircraft through the prohibition of the noisiest aircraft types, through the identification of aircraft “Chapters”. This incentivised airlines to demand ever-quieter aircraft from manufacturers. Because of this concerted action today’s aircraft are typically 75% quieter than jets in the 1960s.

It is time to apply the same logic to CO2 emissions. It is an unavoidable fact that the oldest aircraft are the least fuel-efficient and, therefore, the most environmentally damaging.

According figures from Airbus, a 1980s-vintage MD82 generates 21% more CO2 per seat than an A319 in an equivalent seating layout; and easyJet’s own operating data showed the A319 to be 15% more efficient per seat than the Boeing 737-300. Boeing recently claimed that the 787-9 aircraft will burn 27% less fuel per passenger than the older-generation A340-300 that it could replace in some fleets.

In addition, the fuel consumption of a jet engine deteriorates over time as it used more, reducing the environmental performance of the aircraft. Much of this deterioration can be recovered by doing performance restoration maintenance on the engines, but some performance is always lost.


easyJet proposes that as of 1st January 2012 (i.e. the date all of aviation goes into the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme) no transport aircraft built before 1st January 1990 will be allowed to remain registered in the EU and the requirement would then roll forward each year. The EU could mandate this by issuing an appropriate Regulation. This also has the advantage of capturing freighter aircraft - often where older aircraft end up.

According to data from AirCraft Analytical System, an aviation industry market information provider, of the 3,622 aircraft registered for operations within Europe, 678 are more than 17 years old today (i.e. built before February 1990). This represents 19% of the European fleet and, if they were all replaced today with the most modern technology, this could represent a saving of total emissions from European aviation of 4-5%.

easyJet’s proposal is made as the airline takes delivery of its 100th Airbus 319 aircraft at a special handover ceremony at the Airbus factory in Hamburg before the specially-branded aircraft embarks on a tour of some of Europe’s major capital cities. The 100 aircraft have been delivered in only 3.5 years meaning that easyJet has taken an A319 into its fleet every 12 days - a faster rate than any other airline in history. The easyJet fleet now consists of 130 aircraft with an average age of 2.2 years - the youngest of any major airline in Europe.

Speaking today in Hamburg at a ceremony to mark the delivery of the airline’s 100th Airbus A319, Andy Harrison, easyJet Chief Executive, said:

“Our proposal to limit the age of European aircraft to 22 years or younger would have a dramatic impact on the Europe’s aviation emissions and would mirror the progress already made in noise reductions. The European Commission has announced new guidelines that average car emissions should not exceed 130g CO2 per kilometre. Similar steps must be taken to get the oldest aircraft out of the sky to enable the industry to achieve “green growth”.

“Governments and regulators must begin to recognise that some aircraft are dramatically more environmentally-efficient than others. easyJet’s mix of new aircraft with high seat densities and high load factors means a traditional airline emits 27% more CO2 per passenger kilometre than easyJet. Over the course of our last financial year, easyJet emitted 95.7g CO2 per passenger kilometre - which means an easyJet passenger’s environmental footprint is less than the 104g CO2 per kilometre of the Toyota Prius.

“Unlike some issues in aviation which need global agreement - this could be very straightforward, so there is no excuse for inaction. The vast majority of aircraft flying short-haul routes within Europe are on European-registered airlines which can be covered by a legislative proposal from the European Commission.”