7 Airlines That Really Need to Green up Their Act

5. Northwest Airlines

Retired old 747 in a Minneapolis hanger. Photo by RBNnlsn via Flickr

Now part of Delta, Northwest Airlines' 18-year-old jets are the oldest in the skies, so forget fuel efficiency. These guys also do very little environmental reporting, which is too bad since they have some stuff to brag about, such as solar energy on the ground, single-engine taxiing to cut back on fuel, paperless tickets, and carbon offsets through the Nature Conservancy. It's also "trying" recycling, whatever that means. But there is no ETA for green building initiatives, alt-fuel efforts or organic fair trade foods.

6. Saha Airlines

Short of a new fleet: idle less, recycle oil, and lower speeds to green flights. Photo by Retro Moderns via Flickr Iran's Saha Airlines has Boeing 747s averaging 34 years old, perhaps the oldest aircraft flying. U.S. sanctions don't help in purchasing new more fuel-efficient aircraft. But environmental issues divide the world between developed and the developing nations. Air Transport Action Group, a proponent of sustainable aviation biofuels based in Switzerland, noted that while fuel-efficiency is a priority for most airlines, "some are less focused on environmental issues directly, often in countries where other priorities are more important." Pakistan's Aero Asia planes are 26 years old and Peru's Aero Condor is 24, according to Air Fleet, which runs an airline data base. In addition, notes Air Philippines, hush kits required on its old equipment to meet international noise level standards burn 50 percent more fuel, thereby increasing air pollution.

7. All Airlines: Let's Get rid of Shuttles

Improved flight plans and washing engines increase mileage. Photo by Nic@ Flickr

Ok so this listing isn't exactly an airline, but more a message to all airlines: Shuttles are fuel-sucking routes that are often not shorter or barely shorter than train trips. Not to mention usually hugely uncomfortable and stressful thanks to airport security. While longer trips can be more fuel-efficient per passenger than train travel, that's not true of commuter routes like New York to Washington, D.C. Several of the most popular flights globally have alternative train trips, such as Milan to Rome (the #5 most popular flight), London/Paris (#11), and Paris/Marseilles (#13). With Amsterdam/London (#8), for instance, flying saves only an hour of time over the train and wastes between 500 and 1,600 in CO2. It's time to get cracking on high-speed trains between San Francisco and Los Angeles, Los Angeles/Las Vegas, New York City/Boston, Melbourne/Sydney, Rio/Sao Paulo--all among the world's top 20 flights.

More on Green Flying
Greener Flying: Not All Flights are Created Equal (Part 1 of 3)
Greener Flying: Top 20 Most Popular Airline Routes (Part 2 of 3)
Greener Flying: Alternatives to Flying (Part 3 of 3)

Tags: Airlines | Airplanes | Air Travel | Biofuels | Carbon Emissions | Global Warming Solutions