Southwest Airlines (Ticker: LUV) is implementing measures that will not only further its positioning on sustainability but will improve its efficiency and therefore its profitability.
Weight is a critical element in any aircraft and corresponds directly to flight performance, including fuel efficiency. Over the past two years Southwest has been experimenting with a “green plane” where numerous small improvements in the design and materials used in the seats and the cabin have been tested. The result is a lighter aircraft (by about 472 pounds) that burns less fuel (9,500 gallons less fuel per year). Multiply this approach over Southwest’s fleet and the savings really add up.
“Considering that Southwest flies more than 3,300 flights a day an average distance of 635 miles per flight, the savings would be dramatic. Southwest calculated that it could save 90.6 million gallons of fuel and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 1.9 billion pounds a year.”
Extrapolate those figures to the aviation industry nationwide, fuel consumption could be cut by 760 million gallons and carbon dioxide emissions by 16 billion pounds a year.
It’s easy to be cynical about the aviation industry from a sustainability standpoint. Planes consume lots of fuel and generate large amounts of carbon dioxide. However we at Caledonia are always excited to see sustainability and profitability complement each other. As Southwest claims, it makes good business sense. Expect other carriers to follow.