Friday, May 23, 2008

From Friendly Skies to Earth Friendly Skies:
How Jet Blue Airlines Got Green


--trends + business + politics--

Air travel for many of us is stressful and often taxing - especially when you start thinking about exactly how much of an environmental impact each flight we take generates. The aviation industry is estimated to burn 130 million tonnes of fuel annually, a figure that is projected to rise to 300 million tonnes by 2015, and 450 million tonnes by 2050. Altogether it is calculated the aviation industry is responsible for 0.55 billion tonnes of CO2 pollution annually, some two percent of global carbon emissions - it still trails behind the auto industry that generates a whopping 18% of all global emissions. Jet Blue is trying to fight back by getting more earth friendly across as many business lines as possible.

Most recently, Jet Blue announced a new initiative "Jetting to Go Green" - a program allowing customer to offset their CO2 emissions from air travel by purchasing options for as little as $5 per round trip. The program is a product of a partnership between Carbonfund.org and the airline. Other elements of this specific initiative include publishing an environmental and social report, and offering crew members and customers opportunities to volunteer and make a difference in their own neighborhoods. The airline also employs other green programs outside of Jetting to Go Green, in areas including;

Aircraft
Jet Blue is said to operate a new, fuel-efficient fleet, but in addition continues to look for ways to safely reduce fuel burn and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Solutions include:

  • Using one engine to taxi to and from runways
  • Connecting the aircraft to ground power at the gate rather than using the engines to power air-conditioning, etc.
  • Deploying state-of-the-art technology to develop efficient routings and reduce flying times
  • Equipping aircraft with winglets to increase fuel efficiency
  • Installing lighter aircraft seats and LED lighting

Onboard
JetBlue's says that their onboard experience is "designed to give customers everything they need - such as friendly service and innovative amenities - and nothing they don't." That means:

  • Eliminating disposable headsets (starting June 2008) and encouraging customers to bring their own for inflight entertainment.
  • Saving paper by not offering an inflight magazine
Airport
At the Jet Blue hometown airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), the company strives to reduce and recycle waste generated both inside our terminal (T6) and on the tarmac, including:

  • Recycling spent jet fuel and oil and oil/fuel filters. This allows the company to recycle approximately 1,500 gallons of fuel and oil and some 600 pounds of steel, each month. They hope to expand this program to all their maintenance bases in the near future.
  • Working with their concession providers to recycle or re-use cooking oils (not for human consumption)
  • Using de-icing chemical reduction techniques to minimize the environmental impact. (They are approved to use state-of-the-art infra-red technology in de-icing to reduce de-icing fluid usage.)
  • Reducing paper by eliminating paper tickets, ticket holders and large boarding documents and offering small, simple boarding passes.
Later this year, the company will open Terminal 5 - a new environmentally friendly terminal at JFK.

To learn more about how to travel Eco-friendly and how to spot "greenwashing" in the travel industry - check out this GREAT ARTICLE written by Christopher Elliott for CNN


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