American Airlines Sustainability Report: CO2 Intensity Barely Drops, Company Losing Ground on Goal
AMR Corporation, the parent company of American Airlines and its regional affiliate American Eagle, is behind schedule to meet its 2025 carbon intensity goal of a 30 percent drop from 2005 levels, according to the company’s 2011 corporate sustainability report.
AMR’s carbon intensity reduced very slightly from 2010 to 2011. The report does not include exact figures for every year, but graphs show that from 2010 to 2011 AMR reduced the amount of CO2 equivalent it released per 1,000 revenue ton miles by far less than 0.1 metric tons.
Between 2005 and 2010 the company reduced its carbon intensity by six percent, the report says.
The company reduced its scope 1 carbon dioxide emissions 0.7 percent from just over 27 million metric tons in 2010 to 26.8 million metric tons in 2011. Over 98 percent of AMR’s scope 1 greenhouse gas emissions are related to the consumption of jet fuel. Its scope 2 CO2 emissions dropped almost 5 percent from 486,000 to 463,000 metric tons of CO2 over the same time period.
In 2011, AMR’s scope 3 emissions, which are derived from employee travel, were estimated at 123,000 metric tons of CO2. The report does not include estimates for earlier years. Employee travel for business on American Airlines flights, and any associated greenhouse gas emissions, are included as scope 1 emissions rather than broken out as separate scope 3 emissions, the report says.
The company says it has developed a four-pronged approach to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions. The strategy includes investing in new aircraft and aviation technology, promoting the development of innovative technologies and solutions, supporting investment in air traffic control and continued attention to Fuel Smart – the company’s employee-led fuel savings program.
Since 2005 the Fuel Smart program has created $300 million in fuel-saving initiatives, including use of winglets, high-speed tugs and ground power units, the report says. Last year saw the program save 141 million gallons of fuel, exceeding its 2011 goal by 7 million gallons. About 700 million gallons of fuel savings, worth $1.5 billion at prevailing fuel prices, have been found since the program began, the report says.
In 2011, the program concentrated on achieving greater fuel efficiency through route selection, reducing fuel use while aircraft are parked and replacing heavier cargo containers on board aircraft with lighter weight containers. Using lighter-weight cargo containers will save about 1.5 million gallons of fuel each year, the report says.
The company cut its fuel consumption by 0.3 percent year-on-year from 2,764 million to 2,756 million gallons. Despite the cut in usage, rising fuel costs caused AMR’s total fuel bill to rocket from $6.4 billion in 2010 to $8.3 billion in 2011. In 2010, fuel costs accounted for 29.3 percent of AMR’s operating expenses. By 2011 this figure had risen to 33.2 percent of expenses (see chart, below).
American Airlines has signed a letter of intent with Solena Fuels and is negotiating an agreement with other US carriers to purchase biofuel from recycled waste. Solena’s Northern California biomass-to-liquids plant will produce up to 16 million gallons of jet fuel per year from 550,000 tons of recycled agricultural and urban waste, the report says.
Earlier this month, the International Air Transport Association – an airline trade body that American is part of – called on governments to introduce policies aimed a fostering growth in the biofuels industry.
Waste reduction looks to have been a strong metric for AMR this year. From 2010 to 2011 the company cut its regulated waste production, which includes hazardous waste, universal waste, and other regulated waste, by 11.5 percent, from 1,338 tons to 1,185 tons.
AMR produced 3,552 tons of what it calls non-regulated waste, which only includes waste from maintenance and headquarters facilities, in 2011. The report does not provide figures for earlier years.
The company’s recycling increased 17.5 percent from 4,280 tons in 2010 to 5,030 in 2011. The company says that the increase in recycling reported can be partially attributed to better tracking of data.
AMR’s water footprint dropped 2.4 percent from 2010 to 2011. In 2010 the company consumed 546.2 million gallons. That figure dropped to 533.2 in 2011.
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