Greener Flying

By | Category: Travel rumblings

I can’t really believe my luck. Two weeks ago I was in Glasgow and the effects of the volcano ash caused my flight to be cancelled. I’m back in Glasgow to wrap up those appointments that I had to ski pand guess what; the ash has closed Glasgow airport from 7am tomorrow.

The difference this time is that the aviation authorities are unlikely to trigger the immense shutdown that happened then so I am optimistic I’ll be able to fly out in under 6 days.

Why fly you might ask? Why not use the train? Firstly, from Surrey to Glasgow by train takes a minimum of 6 hours if all the connections go smoothly. So today I caught a train at 11.41 to get up to London to catch the train to Glasgow. I arrived at 18.05. My flight back tomorrow ,(assuming it flies) will take about 3 and a half hours including check-in periods and public transport back to the office.

Cuttingthe number of miles I fly would increase my green standings but flying less is not always an option. You cannot do everything by telephone, e-mails or video conferencing.

But airlines are doing their bit as well. You might have seen those upturned flaps (winglets) at the end of the wings on some planes. Fitting them saves fuel. Some work by Hawaiian Airlines on Boeing 767’s shows savings of 4% on fuel saving about 2,250 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per aircraft per year. KLM is of a number of airlines which has tested flying a mixture of fuels to cut emissions and United Airlines flew with one plane engine with a mixture of natural gas and aviation fuel. Newer planes, like cars, emit fewer emissions and use less fuel. Not racing to catch up on time if a flight is delayed saves fuel yet lots of airlines try hard and trumpet the fact that they are so punctual. Does 5 or 10 minutes matter so much? There is research being carried out at the moment on passenger attitudes to airlines and how much they will “forgive” an airline being late before they change their allegiance to another airline.

So some airlines are trying to be greener without necessarily reducing the number of flights they operate. The extreme would be to stop all flying altogether with all the economic consequences that has, something which a volcano did quite successfully last month. And which might do to me again tomorrow. In the meantime if you want to be greener pick your airline by the age of its fleet, whether the planes have winglets and what the policy is on using fuel if the flights are running late.

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