Airlines accused of “fuel tankering” hypocrisy

BA to review ‘fuel tankering’ after Panorama revelations

Airlines accused of "fuel tankering" hypocrisy 1A BBC investigation has found that airlines regularly overfill planes with fuel, thereby adding to the plane’s CO2emissions. Carrying excess fuel saves airlines on fuel bills but has adverse environmental impact.

The Guardian reports that British Airways has pledged to review its practice of making aircraft carry tonnes of excess fuel to avoid filling up at destination airports. They quote Willie Walsh, chief executive of BA’s parent company IAG, admitting that using the method – called “fuel tankering” within the industry – was “maybe the wrong thing to do” despite the financial incentive behind the practice, because of its environmental impact.

It was a British Airways whistleblower who revealed an industry-wide practice that deliberately adds weight to flights, increasing greenhouse gas emissions.

Extra annual emissions equivalent to that of a large town

The practice could mean extra annual emissions equivalent to that of a large town. BA said it was common to carry extra fuel for “operational, safety and price reasons”. BBC Panorama has estimated that the airline’s planes generated an extra 18,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide last year through fuel tankering.

The cost savings per flight are sometimes negligible, according to Panorama. Cost savings made on a single flight can be as small as just over £10 – though savings can run to hundreds of pounds. Researchers have estimated that one in five of all European flights involves some element of fuel tankering. The practice on European routes could result in additional annual greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to that produced by a town of 100,000 people.

“Profit before planet”

Airlines accused of "fuel tankering" hypocrisy 3Critics say the frequent use of the practice undermines the aviation industry’s claims that it is committed to reducing carbon emissions. John Sauven, of Greenpeace UK, told the BBC that this was a “classic example of a company putting profit before planet”. “This is why we can’t afford another decade of believing corporate greenwash and waiting for the voluntary carbon reductions to appear”. “We need tough regulations to limit aviation’s emissions because so long as there’s money in polluting, they’ll pollute as much as they can”.

The Independent reports that Panorama saw documents confirming that up to six tonnes of extra fuel can be loaded onto a plane per flight. British Airways told the BBC that fuel tankering is standard practice within the industry, and that “since 2012 flights within Europe are covered by the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, and from 2020 BA will offset all CO2 emissions from its UK domestic flights”.

5 thoughts on “Airlines accused of “fuel tankering” hypocrisy”

  1. I quite like the idea of planes carrying excess fuel. It means you can circle the airport if needed or carry on to an alternate airport in bad weather conditions. I’d also prefer it if they had four instead of two engines!

    I’m not a fan of flying.

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  2. Having experienced 2 aborted landings due to cross winds on our last trip to Madeira, we diverted to Porto Santo to refuel. We were told that each aborted landing used the equivalent of 3 hours normal cruising. Hence the need to carry extra fuel when flying to Madeira. The good news is that we landed OK at the third (and final) attempt having taken on enough fuel to return to Gatwick or divert to Tenerife if we could not get in.

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  3. I would like to see the expression on the face of a plane full of Greenpeace activists when the pilot suddenly announces over the speakers:

    “Ladies and gentlemen, due to the regulations on co2 emissions and the ban on carrying fuel buffers we have unfortunately used too much fuel due to strong headwinds and will be ditching into the sea…”

    Countries in the West do everything possible to shoot themselves in the foot while China, India and the rest couldn’t give a rats arse about co2 levels as can clearly be seen by India’s pollution recently making the news around the globe

    It is exactly like the carbon credits available to automakers, you can build more gas guzzlers as long as you pay for carbon credits….
    How can any rational person take that onboard and think that it is somehow acceptable?

    If I were the head honcho at a company like VW, Mercedes, GM, Ford I would be heavily investing in carbon neutral synthetic hydrocarbon fuel production using small modular nuclear reactors

    Automakers have the ability and technology to produce a well engineered product en masse and it would be wise for them to vertically integrate if they want to stave off the onslaught of automotive electrification

    Tesla is making a fortune selling carbon credits to other automakers and will continue to do for the foreseeable future
    The lithium battery has just received a decent boost in performance due to a charging discovery that allows rapid charging at a temp of 60c

    The batteries are pre heated to the required temp from the incoming charge and then switched over to the normal circuit for rapid charging in around 8 minutes to an 80% state of charge

    This means a quick stop for a pee and charge on route, how long can you hold yours? We are seeing an evolution in battery tech which while not exponential, does indeed grow ever upwards and onwards

    So eventually, when aircraft kerosene turbines are replaced with electric motors with their myriad of advantages how will those with their hands in the coffers gouge money from the plebs then? O2 Taxation?

    I do drone on… A good week to all

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