Finally noticing that it really will need new low carbon airplanes in order to land in Europe starting in 2012, at least one airline in the US has just ordered the aircraft it will need to do that.
American Airlines just placed the largest order in history for a new fleet of fuel efficient airplanes, according to Green Car Congress. The 460 new planes meet the EU climate regulations to lower airline carbon emissions.
Back in 2007 the EU passed new regulations that all airlines landing in Europe after 2012 have to reduce airline emissions, or pay to pollute. Apparently, US firms assumed they could just lobby or lawyer their way around this inconvenient truth, along with Chinese airlines.
The entire US airline industry, including American Airlines itself, represented by The Air Transport Association of America, has had lawyers battle the new rule. They argued before the European Court of Justice that imposing the system on foreign companies violates international aviation and climate change agreements. (There are no international climate change agreements to date that cover China and the US, since they did not join Kyoto). The Obama administration recently offered a rather hypocritical squawk of mild disappointment – doing it about a month ago, much too late to offer any real resistance.
Now that we are just six months from the deadline, at least one US airline has faced the new reality of a carbon constrained future. The order is for 200 fuel efficient planes from Seattle-based Boeing and 260 from the European company Airbus.
In addition to having made the responsible choice for our climate, and saving shareholder’s money on Europe’s pollution fines, not wasting energy will save them money on fuel too. American Airlines will save about 35% on fuel costs over the big MD-80’s and up to 15% over the old 757s.
Airbus, which has received 1200 orders in just six months for the fuel efficient aircraft says its “new engine choices result in a 15 percent fuel burn reduction, corresponding to an annual carbon dioxide reduction of 3,600 metric tons per aircraft. Compared to prior-generation narrowbody aircraft, the fuel savings could easily amount to up to 30 percent.”
Of course, planes do take a while to make. American Airlines will take deliveries of this gigantic order starting in 2013 and continuing through 2021. But in about five years, it will have the most fuel-efficient fleet among US airlines. And be eligible to land in Europe.
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