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American Airlines sustainability measures save 123M gallons in jet fuel annually

American Airlines sustainability measures save 123M gallons in jet fuel annually

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The airline seeks to improve its carbon dioxide emissions to jet fuel intensity ratio by 1.5 percent each year.

The 45 new Boeing 737 planes added to the American Airlines fleet in 2010 are 35 percent more fuel-efficient than the planes they replaced. That's great news for an airline that already saves approximately 123 million gallons of jet fuel annually through the sustainability measures it has adopted over the past five years.

Along the way, the airline's parent company, AMR, managed to cut its greenhouse gas emissions ratio related to jet fuel by 5 percent in 2010, versus 2009, as part of its ongoing FuelSmart program. These and other statistics are part of the company's 2010 Corporate Responsibility Report, published at the end of May.

When you did into the numbers a bit deeper, you will discover that the savings AMR managed in 2010 were actually 3 million gallons ahead of what it had expected from the year and approximately 15 million gallons more than what the airline saved in 2009. The goal for 2011 is to save 134 million gallons.

Aside from the new planes I already mentioned, AMR installed "winglets" on its 767-300 fleet (ala in the photo), which is another fuel efficiency measure that will save an estimated 4.4 million gallons annually. The winglets have already been installed on the rest of the airline's 737 and 757 aircraft. Another measure that has saved fuel is lightening the load of catering items and potable water that are carried on planes. PLUS, better planning of the meals has saved at least 900,000 gallons. So all those meals that you didn't want to eat anyway are helping saving AMR fuel. Bet you didn't know that.

On the ground, AMR has saved approximately $12 million through its Utilities Management Council. That council specifically includes the company's 10 biggest culprits when it comes to spending most on utility costs. Utilities, in this sense, includes everything from electricity to water to paper to toners from printers and imaging devices.

Some of the specific measures that have helped along the way:

  • Over the past year, American Airlines replaced more than 24,800 lighting fixtures with more efficient fluroscent technology, saving about 1.23 megawatt hours of electricity. About 1,700 fixtures were retrofitted for LEDs.
  • American is using the ideas behind the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program to help steer its green building projects, even if it doesn't actually seek to earn the certifications.
  • One hiccup in the airline's operational sustainability plans was an increase in the amount of water it used during 2010. AMR reports that consumption was 534.4 million gallons, up 2.2 percent due to an issue with its reverse osmosis filtration technologies.
  • During 2010, American collected and recycled more than 7.2 million pounds of metals, paper, electronics, oil, batteries and other items.

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Heather Clancy

Section Editor

Heather Clancy has written for United Press International, ZDNet, Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times. She holds a degree from McGill University. She is based in New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure