Nor wegian Air Shuttle was the most fuel-efficient airline on North Atlantic routes in 2017, according to a study. The LCC turned a 63% better fuel-burn figure than the worst operator, British Airways (BA).
Te survey, which measured the 20 airlines with
the greatest capacity operating nonstop fights between the US and various points in Europe in 2017,
was published by the International Council on Clean
Transportation (ICCT), an independent non-proft
organization founded to provide unbiased research
and technical and scientifc analysis to environmental
Te survey reported that Norwegian Air Shuttle had an
average fuel efciency of 44 passenger-kilometers per liter
of fuel (pax-km/L), 33% higher than the industry average
of 34 pax-km/L). Te second and third most efcient were,
respectively, Iceland’s WOW air and SWISS.
BA’s fuel-consumption fgure was 27 pax-km/L, 22%
below the industry average. Te next two least-efcient carriers were Lufthansa and United Airlines.
Te estimated gap between the most and least fuel-efcient transatlantic airlines widened from 51% in 2014 to
63% in 2017. Norwegian’s average fuel efciency increased
by 3 pax-km/L, while BA’s decreased by 1 pax-km/L.
Although the fuel efciency of BA’s feet increased, and
average passenger load factors were similar in 2014 and
2017, the freight share of total payload and average seating
density of BA’s feet fell during this time.
Te industry average fuel efciency improved only
marginally from 33 pax-km/L in 2014 to 34 pax-km/L in
2017. Tis improvement could be attributed to an increase
in fuel-efcient aircraft.
Major improvers in the ranking from 2014 to 2017 included Virgin Atlantic ( 30 to 35 pax-km/L) and Aerofot
( 30 to 33 pax-km/L). Tese improvements are linked to
the increased use of more fuel-efcient aircraft— the Boeing 787-9 for Virgin and Boeing 777-300ER for Aerofot.
However, if Virgin Atlantic proceeds with plans to buy new
supersonic aircraft—yet to be confrmed—ICCT says fuel
efciencies would be around 7 pax-km/L, which could reverse its efciency gains.
Te importance of seating density as a driver of fuel efciency has increased since 2014 because of the expansion
of carriers like Norwegian and WOW air, which operate
transatlantic fights with higher seat counts and a lower percentage of premium seats compared to competitors.
One signifcant factor in BA’s poor fgure, said ICCT,
was that the aging Boeing 747-400 remains the “most prev-
Survey shows disparity in transatlantic
fuel efficiency. BY ALAN DRON
"The most important thing that an
airline can do for the environment is to
invest in newer aircraft, which use the
latest technology to be as fuel-effcient
Bjorn Kjos, Norwegian CEO