Emirates’ first environmental report reveals its fleet is 25 per cent more efficient than the industry average

Emirates’ first environmental report reveals its fleet is 25 per cent more efficient than the industry average | Emirates

(photo: Emirates)

Thu 18 Aug 2011 – The Emirates Group has become the first major airline in the Middle East to report annually on its environmental impact and performance. Data shows the Emirates’ fuel efficiency for the period April 2010 to March 2011 was 4.12 litres per 100 passenger-kilometres, around 25 per cent lower than the IATA 2010 industry forecast average of 5.4 litres per 100 pax-kms. As this is the first year of reporting, Emirates has not provided comparison data for previous years but the fuel efficiency figure compares favourably with other major airlines. The Lufthansa group reported a fuel efficiency of 4.21 litres per 100 pax-kms for 2010.  Emirates fuel consumption from airline operations for the reporting period amounted to 5.6 million tonnes, resulting in 17.7 million tonnes of CO2 emissions. The report also details the environmental impact and activities of the group’s ground operations, covering ground handling, cargo, flight catering and engineering.


Emirates Airline’s passenger CO2 efficiency for 2010-11 was 101.83 grams of CO2 per passenger-kilometre, again around 25% better than the IATA average of 136.5, and compares with a similar measurement of 103.3 just reported by British Airways.


Including cargo operations, the overall fleet CO2 per tonne-kilometre flown was 0.749 compared to the IATA average of 1.02. The report compares this metric with other major international carriers and shows it outperforms United Airlines (1.02), Qantas (0.99), Singapore (0.92) and Cathay Pacific/Dragonair (0.78).


The report also presents what Emirates claims is a new metric to measure noise performance, namely Noise Efficiency Factors for Take-Off and Landing. This is based on the fuel efficiency of the aircraft, the Zero Fuel Weight, the planned distance to be flown and the effective perceived noise over a given area of land (the noise contour). The airline says this illustrates more clearly that modern aircraft such as the A380 have much lower noise efficiency factors and it suggests the metric be adopted by the airline industry as a whole.


The average age of the Emirates fleet as of March 2011 stands at 6.4 years, less than half the global average of 13.8 years. The group says its young and eco-efficient fleet with world-leading fuel efficiency and environmental performance will continue to be a key factor in its environmental strategy.


The report contains case studies on further improvements to performance through the airline’s operational activities on route improvements and ultra long range flights. Emirates is also participating in the INSPIRE (Indian Ocean Strategic Partnership to Reduce Emissions) programme to gauge the improved impact of a ‘perfect flight’ while flying direct optimum routes, with two test flights having already taken place between Dubai and Australia.


Despite 96.2% of CO2 emissions being attributed to the consumption of jet fuel during flights, the Group says it believes that efficient operations on the ground are as important as in the air and the report lays out the results of activities to reduce fuel, water and energy consumption in its buildings and ground vehicles. During the reporting period, Emirates and its dnata ground operations in Dubai recycled nearly 5,000 tonnes of materials from its buildings.


“Emirates takes its commitment to the environment very seriously and strives to be an industry innovator and leader. The report is more than a snap-shot of the performance of the Group, it will act as a future measure of success in all we do,” commented Andrew Parker, Senior Vice-President, Public, Industry, International and Environmental Affairs.


The report says that as this is the first baseline year and until two consecutive years of data are available, it is premature for the Group to be setting environmental improvement targets. However, once 2011-12 data has been analysed, it intends to set a number of high-level efficiency goals covering fuel, CO2, NOx, UHC and noise metrics, as well as targets for ground operations.


It adds that the scope of the next report will be widened to include more subsidiary companies, both in the UAE and overseas, and to cover as many outstations as is feasible.


The report was prepared in accordance with Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) G3 principles and key fuel and CO2 metrics have been validated in an assurance report by accountancy firm PwC.


In addition to environmental performance, the report goes into detail on Emirates’ policy on voluntary carbon offset schemes, biofuels and the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS).


On the former, the report says the airline believes in an ‘emitter pays’ principle and, as such, it alone is responsible for minimising emissions and should not pass on this responsibility to customers. The Group supports a wide range of community and workplace projects, including humanitarian and conservation programmes. Many projects are supported by direct funding, such as the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, and 37 humanitarian projects around the world are supported by The Emirates Airline Foundation, a non-profit organisation set up to support children’s charities through donations of funds and Skyward Miles by Emirates passengers, staff and workplace programmes. A number of these projects, says the report, are conservation-based or have a strong environmental focus, assisting communities with clean water supply and sanitation, renewable energy installations and relief from natural disasters.


Concerning biofuels, Emirates says that as an airline spending over $4 billion on fuel a year, it is monitoring the development of biofuel technology “with great interest”.


“However,” says the report, “Emirates is an end-customer – we are not a specialist fuel research and development company – nor are we a large-scale grower of agricultural or algal feedstocks. When aviation biofuels have been developed that are technically safe, cost competitive and truly sustainable, Emirates will be first in line to buy them.”


The report reveals that the EU ETS will cost Emirates over €40 million to purchase additional emissions allowances in 2012, the first year of the scheme, and well over half a billion euros in the nine-year period to 2020. “Unfortunately, this cost will almost certainly have to be passed on to customers,” it says.


Emirates says it has two main concerns with the scheme: that monies raised by states will be allocated to general revenue, contrary to the intent of the EU Directive, and EU states such as Germany, Austria and the UK have introduced additional environmental taxes resulting in the aviation industry having to pay for their emissions more than once in the EU.


The report notes that some legacy European carriers that initially supported the scheme have now begun to criticise it, with a common allegation of the potential for carbon leakage whereby carriers will avoid European hubs in favour of routing through hubs such as Dubai. “It is clear that this is simply an attempt by some European carriers to obtain additional emissions allowances (i.e. subsidies),” says the report.


On EU ‘environmental’ taxes, the report claims the evidence of some EU states imposing and others scrapping such taxes show that they defeat their ultimate economic aim and do not have any measurable environmental benefits.




Emirates Group – Environmental Report 2010-11 (pdf)



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