Flying with British Airways can almost double your carbon footprint

Flying with British Airways can increase CO2 emissions by up to 45% per passenger, compared with other airlines, according to research conducted by Which?  

Their analysis revealed that one passenger flying from Heathrow to Miami with British Airways could be responsible for 1.13 tonnes of carbon, almost a third more than for the same journey with Virgin Atlantic (860.9k).

This difference of 544kilos of CO2 is equivalent to more than 2 months of electricity in the average UK home.

These findings are not restricted to long-haul flights. Which? also found that a BA flight from London Stanstead to Palma de Mallorca emitted nearly 50% more than the same route with Ryanair.

One of the reasons why British Airways have such a large carbon footprint is because they are a flag carrier, which means they are locally registered so can enjoy privileges from the government for international operations, however, this also means that they often have older fleets, which use more fuel.

British Airway flights also carry more business and first-class passengers. Because they take up more space they have a larger carbon footprint.

For business class passengers on a long-haul flight, the environmental impact is estimated to be three times higher than flying economy.

Last year, an investigation into airline carbon emissions uncovered that BA emits 18,000 tonnes of additional CO2 each year by indulging in fuel tinkering, a practice designed to save money.

Fuel tinkering involves filling an aircraft with extra fuel to avoid having to refuel in destinations where prices are higher.

For example, an indirect flight from London Heathrow to Singapore with Cathay Pacific produces three quarters more emissions than the same journey with KLM.

This is because, connecting in Hong Kong with Cathay, rather than Amsterdam with KLM means that the plane is in the air for a few more hours, and therefore far more carbon is emitted.

Rory Boland, Which? travel editor said: ‘These figures show that swapping to a greener airline will allow the many of us concerned about climate change to immediately and significantly reduce our individual carbon footprint.

‘If millions of us were to switch to the less polluting airline on our next holiday, it would bring pressure to bear on the worst polluting airlines and force them to prioritise their impact on the environment by introducing more efficient aircraft and cleaner fuels.’

Photo Credit – Pixabay

Pippa Neill

Pippa Neill

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Edward Pinnegar

Your article states that ‘British Airways have such a large carbon footprint is because they are a flag carrier, which means they are locally registered so can enjoy privileges from the government for international operations, however, this also means that they often have older fleets, which use more fuel.’ This is incorrect. The term ‘flag carrier’ has no position in law, and British Airways enjoys no special privileges above other airlines. Indeed, on many routes British Airways has a similar or lower footprint than other airlines. The principal reason for higher emissions on some flights is the company’s fleet of… Read more »

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