With more attention turning to the airline industry, the race has begun for airlines to prove their dedication to the environment. In an effort to improve their credentials, airlines have tried everything from sustainable fuel to limiting on board waste. In an effort to clean up its reputation, American Airlines recently slammed its competitor United Airlines for not doing as much to help the environment.
United vs. American Airlines
In a statement to their employees, American Airlines CEO Doug Parker claimed last week that American is “much more environmentally friendly than United Airlines.”
According to Parker, American’s younger, more fuel-efficient fleet means fewer carbon emissions. Where American’s average aircraft is 9 years old, United’s fleet averages about 15 years old. He goes on to explain that while United has experimented with a biofuel-supplied aircraft, American has done far more. What’s some biofuel testing in comparison to 500 newer, more fuel-efficient aircrafts?
“We’re much more environmentally friendly than United Airlines right now because we’ve invested in more fuel-efficient aircraft. They say that about some effort they’re doing with biofuels, so again good for them, not saying they shouldn’t do that. But having one airplane flying around with some biofuel testing as opposed to having a fleet of 1500 airplanes, 500 new airplanes while they’re flying 500 old airplanes around. We’re doing much better things for the environment than they are,” he said.
Yet despite American’s efforts to limit carbon emissions, it hasn’t done much to limit on-board waste. It still serves in-flight beverages and meals in plastic containers. And although they replaced their plastic stir sticks with bamboo ones last year, they probably don’t recycle on-board waste.
An eco-friendly airline?
As more and more people look for alternatives to flying, airlines have doubled their efforts to come across as eco-friendly.
Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg has in part led the effort against flying. Only yesterday did she arrive in New York City after a two-week voyage in a zero-carbon sailboat across the Atlantic for the UN climate summit.
Protests such as hers against the airline industry have risen in the past few years, with reason. According to the Air Transport Action Group, flying accounts for anywhere from 2 to 5% of global carbon emissions. In 2018 alone, almost 900 million tons of CO2 were released from aircrafts.
With a record 17.5 million Americans expected to fly this Labor Day weekend, the airline industry isn’t going anywhere. To ease their growing consumers, airlines such as American have definitely tried to clean up their environmental reputation. But will they clean up their act, too?