Which airlines are the most fuel efficient in the US?
Who are not only looking to reduce their fuel costs but think of the environment too? How are they doing it? Here are 10 of the most fuel efficient airlines in the US and their methods for keeping costs to a minimum.
The rankings are based on a 2013 study released by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT). The ICCT study uses fuel consumption data reported by airlines to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, along with a methodology developed by the National Center of Excellence for Aviation Operations Research at the University of California, Berkeley. The method took into account airlines’ relative flight distances in miles and their access—in terms of the number of airports served and flight frequencies—to allow for “a precise distinction between fuel burned to provide a given level of service and fuel burned as a result of inefficiencies.”
In use fuel efficiency – 1.11
Starting at the beginning, Delta is a leader in fuel conservation, having improved fuel efficiency by 35 percent since 2000 and 10 percent since 2005.
In 2008, Delta used 1.4 billion fewer gallons of fuel than in 2000, the equivalent of taking more than 2.5 million passenger cars off of the road for a year.
Their fuel-efficient fleet performs at 55 passenger-miles per gallon, the same as a hybrid car with one person.
Delta uses high-speed towbarless tractors at 10 airports in nine cities to move aircraft between hangars and gates, saving more than 7 million gallons of fuel per year. Single-engine taxi procedure saves more than 7 million gallons of fuel per year. Adjusting the amount of water boarded for each flight to anticipated usage reduces weight, which results in fuel savings and fewer emissions.
Replacing heavy meal carts with lightweight meal carts saves 2.2 million gallons of fuel annually.
More efficient flight planning, dispatch procedures, flight ops procedures and ATC initiatives results in savings of approximately 70 million gallons every year.
A long list and that’s just number 10…
Sun Country Airlines
In use fuel efficiency – 0.97
Sun Country Airlines take a number of initiatives when it comes to fuel efficiency. The highly efficient ground handling minimises fuel burn while aircraft are serviced between landing and take–off. Their fleet is comprised of current-generation aircraft which results in reduced environment impacts and exemplifies Sun Country’s commitment to a healthy, ‘green’ environment.
Advanced winglets reduce drag resulting in lower fuel burn and improved fuel economy by 4%. Sun Country’s fuel conservation program is integral to all aspects of operations including eliminating excess weight onboard aircraft, precision flight planning and advanced energy management techniques.
Finally, the vast majority of Sun Country flights are non-stop, resulting in more fuel-efficient flight profiles when compared to taking off and landing at multiple stops along the route.
In use fuel efficiency – 0.98
Despite falling below the industry average at this point, Virgin America does its part. Investment in new aircraft and engines, the latest navigational systems, and consistent use of best practices on the ground and in the air, have made them one of the more fuel efficient airlines in the U.S.
Sir Richard has been a champion of low-carbon fuel alternatives for the aviation sector as well as for shipping, and Virgin five years ago flew a plane to the Netherlands on coconut fuel.
In use fuel efficiency – 1.01
To reduce and conserve fuel consumption, JetBlue use state-of-the art engine health monitoring systems, single-engine taxi to move aircraft on the ramp, and actively manage the age and efficiency of our ground service equipment. In addition they employ the following procedures to manage fuel consumption: Manage routes for efficiency, Support NextGen, Adopt single-engine taxi procedures, Pursue weight-reduction initiatives, Use efficient operating procedures, Limit ground use of auxiliary power units, Prioritize maintenance activities, Clean engines sustainably.
Jetblue’s fleet age is an average of 6.1 years as of December 31, 2011 and recently put in an incremental order for 15 A321ceo and 20 A321neo aircraft, providing increased fleet flexibility and offering up to 15 percent in fuel burn savings.
In use fuel efficiency – 1.02
Frontier is currently using techniques like directional push-backs, single-engine taxi, reducing aircraft boarded weight, adding aerodynamic tweaks to aircraft, utilizing highly-efficient flight management systems and switching from engine power to ground power as quickly as possible.
Frontier’s fleet is newer and more fuel-efficient than the average domestic fleet by 25%. Their cross-functional fuel conservation committee expected to reduce projected fuel consumption by 3% in 2012, just by becoming more efficient.
In use fuel efficiency – 1.06
Southwest tackle fuel efficiency as part of their ‘Environmental Stewardship’. Their $175 million, six-year initiative plans to retrofit fleet with advanced avionics to support Required Navigational Performance (RNP). Southwest operates one of the most efficient fleets in the world, comprised of Next Generation Boeing aircraft (737-700), equipped with winglets and the Boeing Classic fleet (737-300 and -500), 90% equipped with winglets. Winglets save on fuel consumption by an estimated 2.5 percent.
Southwest Airlines recently unveiled the Green Plane, a test environment for the latest environmentally friendly cabin materials and Customer comfort products.
Southwest uses Pratt & Whitney’s EcoPower® for its systematic engine wash program for our Boeing 737-700 series aircraft. Engine washing increases engine efficiency, saves fuel, and reduces carbon emissions.
In use fuel efficiency – 1.07
The former Continental Airlines, which merged with United in 2011, was the top network airline for fuel efficiency in 2010, in fourth place.
United Airlines have improved aircraft fuel efficiency by 32% since 1994.
United and Continental subsidiary airlines combined have made some big achievements including launching the first U.S. passenger biofuel flight powered with a mixture of renewable algae derived jet fuel and conventional jet fuel, operating more than 300 aircraft in mainline operations equipped with winglets that deliver up to a 5% reduction in emissions and operating more than 3,600 ground service equipment vehicles (26%) that are electric or alternatively fueled.
In use fuel efficiency – 1.09
Hawaiian have taken numerous steps to improve their fuel efficiency, mostly by investing in their fleet. They invested in new A330s that carry more passengers, fly farther and are more fuel-efficient than the existing widebody fleet of B767s.
In 2017, they plan to expand the fleet by adding six new A350XWB-800 (Extra Wide Body) aircraft from Airbus, with options to purchase an additional six more.
Built specifically for short-range, high-frequency airline routes, the fleet of Boeing B-717 jets provides daily connections between 5 destinations on four Hawaiian Islands.
In use fuel efficiency – 1.09
Spirit’s modern fleet, eco-friendly seating configuration and other innovations enable airline to burn less fuel per seat than competitors, making it one of the most environmentally-friendly airlines.
Spirit has signed an agreement with Airbus for an order which includes their latest A320neo (new engine option) aircraft, which will be even more fuel efficient than Spirit’s current A320s.
Spirit also operate a“Bring Less, Pay Less” baggage policy which allows customers to bring one free personal item onboard.
Spirit’s average passenger MPG (miles per gallon) is a high 89.4.
In use fuel efficiency – 1.11
Alaska Airlines reduced fossil fuel consumption by 30% per revenue passenger mile (RPM) since 2004 and now ranks #1 in fuel efficiency against all major domestic carriers.
Alaska replaced its fleet of MD-80s with more efficient Next Generation Boeing 737s and has an average fleet age of 8.5 years.
However, the airline’s network is largely made up of flights to and from its hubs in Seattle and Portland, Ore. That limits the “circuity” of its flying which is considered in measuring fuel efficiency.