Thomsonfly, First Choice commit to air offset

The combined fleet of Thomsonfly and First Choice Airways have confirmed they have saved 24,000 tonnes of CO2 in the last financial year and over the forthcoming year expects to offset a fifth of its carbon emissions.That’s the equivalent to taking more than 5,500 family-sized cars off the road for a year.

The newly merged Thomsonfly and First Choice Airways joint fleet now has 80 aircraft - compared to easyJet’s 141 aircraft and British Airways’ 289 aircraft. Over the past year Thomsonfly and First Choice have removed weight from aircraft, changed flight patterns and taxied from runway to the terminal on one engine rather than two. These efficiency measures have saved nearly 8,000 tonnes of fuel - broadly equivalent to 1.25 per cent of forecasted fuel burn and 24,000 tonnes of CO2.

First Choice’s environment manager James Whittingham said: “We release our fuel and carbon information because we feel its important to be absolutely transparent about the work we’re doing and to give travellers the best information so they can make informed decisions about their journey. That’s why in the annual trends report we’re launching at the Association of British Travel Agents conference later this week we’re also releasing details about the actual grams of carbon produced per passenger kilometre on our flights. In the financial year to October 31, this year I can confirm that First Choice aircraft produced an average of 77.5 grams of CO2per passenger kilometre. Thomsonfly’s figure is similar at 80 grams across the year.”

This was calculated by multiplying the total number of passengers carried by the total kilometres they flew and then dividing the overall amount of CO2 produced by the First Choice or Thomson fleet

The Thomson/First Choice trends report confirms there’s no legal obligation for airlines to release this information and few do so, but according to the Environmental Data Services journal report in November 2006 the highest carbon was produced by BA with 143 grams of CO2per passenger kilometre. Virgin Atlantic was listed as 133 grams, while Ryanair is 96 grams and easyJet is 97.5 grams per passenger kilometre.


Thomsonfly and First Choice have also ordered 23 of the super efficient new Boeing 787 Dreamliners, which are designed to cut fuel, burn and CO2 emissions by 20 per cent when compared with jets of the same size operating on similar routes today.

In 2007 First Choice also launched a simple carbon-offsetting scheme -giving customers the opportunity to opt out of a GBP1 contribution per passenger and fifty pence per child. First Choice is also matching customer contributions and says that more than 35 per cent of travellers are contributing to offsetting, far higher than in traditional offsetting schemes. James Whittingham said: “by the end of 2008 we fully expect to offset 20% of our fleet’s fuel consumption. While offsetting can’t solve the aviation problem it’s a positive and immediate action and we’re putting our money into projects like creating renewable energy sources such as hydroelectric power. These projects are also vitally important in the way they also support local communities.”

First Choice customers are also putting money back into local economies overseas by contributing a 50 pence donation to the Travel Foundation travel charity. First Choice this week confirmed its customers have now raised a million pounds for the charity and successes have included helping people rebuild their lives after the tsunami and helping villagers in rural Kenyan villages see their income from tourism rise by 800% in just four months as a result of Travel Foundation work.

- Aircraft numbers: British Airways 289, easyjet 141 (incorporating GB Airways), TUI Travel 80 (flying as Thomsonfly 47 and First Choice Airways 33), Flybe 70, Thomas Cook Group 45 (flying as Thomas Cook 24, MyTravel 21), Virgin Atlantic 38

- The easyJet figure of 97.5 grams per passenger kilometre is reported in easyJet’s 2006 corporate responsibility report)