Emirates Airlines Launches San Francisco Green Jet Service

Published on January 2nd, 2009 | by

At first we had to laugh when we got wind (a tailwind no doubt) of how Emirates Airlines Launches San Francisco Service With World’s Longest Green Flight Trial. Even in their posh business class that’s a long flight and lot of CO2 going into the air. But what’s with the Green aspect? Are they going to sell us carbon credits during the in-flight service? We’ll have two organic gin martinis and 20,000 carbon credits please.

Before we totally write this off as greenwashing, we took a look at their green flight. Emirates created what they call “the most environmentally-sophisticated route and trip possible to help save an estimated 2,000 gallons of fuel and 30,000 pounds of carbon emissions on the 16-hour non-stop service.” The airlines worked with various countries to create a route that heads over Dubai, Russia, Iceland, Canada and the United States and other countries. Maybe these guys should work for the UN. We’ll buy the distance thing. Shorter distance, less fuel, less CO2.

Besides the flight route, Emirates has created several fuel and emission-saving measures such as the new 777-200LR will be specially washed beforehand to minimize drag.
We’re not aerodynamics experts but does washing a plane make that much of a difference toward fuel economy? Think of the precious water use (unless they use graywater) necessary to clean the jet.

The new 777-200LR operates at a 20% better clip when compared to the Air Bus 340-500, so that represents an immediate and tangible green plus.

Emirates also collects all on-board glass, newspapers, aluminum and paper for recycling. Commendable. It’s what happens after the flight that worries us. We have heard but have not yet confirmed that one US carrier that flies international routes collects recycling while in-flight but then the recyclables get burned because the cans and bottles came via an international flight. We wouldn’t want to recycle those cans from Mexico or Canada would we? Maybe the bottles didn’t have there visas?

A lot of the other green factors have to do with routing, wind currents and air traffic management. That all makes sense but don’t all carriers do this? Maybe they don’t. Maybe some airline pilots fly directly into headwinds just for kicks.

Because the flight just kicked off a couple weeks ago, we’ll give it chance to see what the green savings are. It’s going to be difficult to convince us that jumping on a plane and flying half way around the world even remotely resembles anything green but if you gotta go you gotta go.


About the Author

Living in progressively Green San Francisco, Keith Rockmael works in Commercial Real Estate, Leasing and Business Opportunities with a special interest in Green Real Estate and Green Businesses. He also works with restaurants and bars in helping them to Green their businesses. Please contact him regarding health, business, environment or Green finance questions or referrals. He maintains his own blog at Greenerati.com. Contact him at: pepeflaco@gmail.com
  • Hopefully this message will be heard throughout the airline industry and more will adopt these practices. I can’t believe that there’s a problem with recycling products from other countries – if it’s true, that needs to stop.

    As to routes and aerodynamics, yes, all airlines pay attention to these issues, but they usually adopt a ‘this is good enough’ attitude unless there is a strong demand to go further. As saving fuel becomes more important (despite this temporary drop in oil prices) you will see increased efforts in this area.

    And to the extent that consumers demand companies to become more sustainable in their practices we will see greater effort in lowering waste and increased recycling. It’s amazing how much better we can all do if the effort is made.

  • Hopefully this message will be heard throughout the airline industry and more will adopt these practices. I can’t believe that there’s a problem with recycling products from other countries – if it’s true, that needs to stop.

    As to routes and aerodynamics, yes, all airlines pay attention to these issues, but they usually adopt a ‘this is good enough’ attitude unless there is a strong demand to go further. As saving fuel becomes more important (despite this temporary drop in oil prices) you will see increased efforts in this area.

    And to the extent that consumers demand companies to become more sustainable in their practices we will see greater effort in lowering waste and increased recycling. It’s amazing how much better we can all do if the effort is made.

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