Airlines shed pounds to save pounds

Airlines are shredding every milligramme of non-essential weight carried on-board in an effort to reduce fuel costs.

Virgin Atlantic, for example, has removed the clingfilm from bread rolls and is trying to develop package-free meals, Japan Airlines is cutting the number of 5g earplugs it carries, whilst British Airways is replacing hefty catering trolleys and scrapping cabin crew paperwork, reports The Times. BA spends over £8 million per day on fuel, £3m per day more than last year due to increased petrol prices. On a typical long-haul flight, catering equipment and food weighs six tonnes.

A spokesman for BA said: “We have already reduced the amount of potable water we have in our on-board tanks and we have replaced our catering trolleys with lightweight versions.”

“We are reviewing our catering and looking at how much it weighs and looking at how much meals weigh. We are also looking to remove kitchen equipment that is not absolutely essential. And we are moving on-board paperwork to an electronic version. Airlines are having to look at absolutely everything. At some point our in-flight magazines could be electronic.”

Japan Airlines says it can make aircraft 23kg lighter by reducing the number of onboard newspapers and magazines. It has also stopped serving beer on domestic flights in economy and business class. For a 625g weight reduction, the number of paper cups has been reduced by 125 on each aircraft. On other aircraft, the airline has cut the number of 5g earplug sets.


Some airlines have exchanged large bottles of spirits for medium-sized ones, and others are washing engines to remove soot deposits, which impede engine efficiency. This can save 17,000 kilolitres of fuel each year.

Paul Charles, spokesman for Virgin Atlantic, said: “We already have lighter seat fittings and lighter cargo bins. You can make thousands of tonnes of weight savings on each plane each year.”