Pat Hyland - Jan 11, 2010

In the age when customers are very interested in the environment, it is certainly worth knowing that according to a research budget airlines are much greener than regular airlines. This means that the budget travellers are able to board not only with fuller wallets, yet also with a clearer conscience.


The most important things to know about the difference between budget airlines and regular airlines are that low cost airlines are naturally cheaper and that there are no get out clauses for being late or changing dates. Well actually: the differences go a little further than that. For the greener minded passengers, it is worth bearing in mind that budget airlines do much less damage to the environment and are a lot friendlier to the planet.


According to the company that published the analysis Liligo, by choosing to take low cost budget flights, instead of business class on traditional airlines, people could reduce their own flight carbon footprint by over 30%. The authors state the following reasons for such finding. The first and perhaps most logical reason is that budget airlines tend to carry more passengers. This naturally leads to the fact that the planes emit less carbon dioxide per capita. Budget airlines function on the quantity and not quality principle so fuller planes are to be expected.


On a similar note, budget planes tend to fill more seats than regular airlines so the savings are even more recognisable. Whereas British Airways tends to fill 75% of its available seats, budget airlines are renowned for selling more seats than there are available and giving out compensation to those checking in late.


Furthermore, low cost airlines tend to focus upon short haul, which mean a lower average carbon emission. Maybe one of the most important reasons is the fact that the budget airlines use newer planes, which thoroughly exploit fuel efficiency and are better at avoiding waste. To compare: the average British Airways plane is 3 years older than the planes used by e.g. Ryanair.










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  1. That's an interesting finding. It sounds logical, but still I guess there should be more research.

  2. I'm not convinced - this appears to be rather flawed research as they're not compariong like for like...

    Of course a short haul flight (predominantly operated by budget airlines) will emit less carbon than a long haul flght - but surely we need to compare the relative meissions of a budget airline and a non buget airline on the same route.

    Also talking about per capita emmissions is interesting - the avialbility of budget airlines means far more people are travelling by air now where as previously they may have travelled by more 'green' options such as rail or coach or not travelled at all.

    Finally nothing has been said about the actual planes - many budget airlines tend to use older planes and as such these emit more than others.

    I'm not suggesting budget airlines are worse than others but imply this seems to be a very shallow piece of research whiuch could mislead many people.

    (United Kingdom)
  3. Sir, Liligo is not a research company, it is a travel website selling cheap tickets. Draw your own conclusions from that.

    It is true that many (though by no means all) LCCs have newer aircraft than do legacy airlines. There is one LCC here in the UK with aircraft on average over 20 years old.

    They may (again not always) have higher load factors, but they undertake many more rotations each day than do the legacy airlines - i.e. THEY FLY MORE OFTEN.

    They are responsible for generating ever more air passengers, many of whom fly just because it is cheap - whose 'carbon footprint' does that reduce?

    You cannot compare short haul with mid or long haul directly in terms of per capita fuel useage because flight circumstances vary so much. If you were to make a generalisation it would have to be that LCCs use more fuel per capita because they take off and land more often and have to fly circuitous routes, especially in Europe, because of arcane air traffic management systems.

    This 'research' looks to me more like a school project that went wrong.

    (United Kingdom)
  4. Budget airlines are better at managing their fuel usage, that is true, that is the whole point of 'low cost', not just in purchase price, but also in saving costs internally.

    It is also true that generally most budget airlines have younger fleets than legacy airlines, which means they can be greener.

    However, an airline like Ryanair has effectively made it possible for more people to fly than ever before, very noble but fundamentally totally at odds with the core green pursuit of lowering emissions by flying less.

    (United Kingdom)

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