Greener Flying: Top 20 Most Popular Airline Routes (Part 2 of 3)

top airline flight routes image

Here's another way to visualize the same data. Image: Globalization and World Cities Research Network
If You're Going to Fly, At Least Do it Right
The Financial Time published a list of the 20 most popular airline routes based on a study by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network. We think this is a good starting point to see what kind of difference picking flights with awareness could make, at least according to the TRX Airline Carbon Emissions Calculator (not perfect, but as good as any we could find, and with good reviews from the Stockholm Environment Institute and by ICF International, as well as being used by Terrapass). So how big a difference does airline ticket choice make for the top 20 airline routes? The answer might surprise you.

CO2 Emission Overview for Top 20 Most Popular Airline Routes

Below are the top 20 most popular airline routes around the world. For each we look at a return ticket (because most flights are not one way), and we include radiative forcing (RFI) with the IPCC multiplier, because that's currently the best science on it (but know that there is controversy surrounding it, and that the 'official' multiplier could still change in the future). For each we'll include what the best airline choice is (as of June 2009), and also the worst one for comparison (when many airlines are tied, we'll just pick one to keep the list brief, but for complete listings, check out the TRX site).

#1 Hong Kong -> Taipei (1,030 miles)

  • Best: Thai Airways Intl, Economy Class, 939 lbs CO2/seat
  • Worst: China Airlines, First Class, 3,766 lbs CO2/seat

#2 Los Angeles -> New York (4,934 miles)
  • Best: Qatar Airways, Economy Class, 3,363 lbs CO2/seat
  • Worst: US Airways, First Class, 15,305 lbs CO2/seat

#3 London -> New York (6,882 miles)
  • Best: Virgin Atlantic Airways , Economy Class, 4,241 lbs CO2/seat
  • Worst: British Airways, First Class, 16,462 lbs CO2/seat

#4 Melbourne -> Sydney (876 miles)
  • Best: United Airlines, Economy Class, 891 lbs CO2/seat
  • Worst: Jetstar Airways, Business Class, 2,734 lbs CO2/seat

#5 Milan -> Rome (584 miles)
  • Best: easyJet Airlines, Economy Class, 844 lbs CO2/seat
  • Worst: Ethiopian Airlines, First Class, 2,666 lbs CO2/seat

#6 Cape Town -> Johannesburg (1,576 miles)
  • Best: TAP Air Portugal, Economy Class, 1,406 lbs CO2/seat
  • Worst: Malaysia Airlines, First Class, 4,876 lbs CO2/seat

#7 Los Angeles -> San Francisco (676 miles)
  • Best: BMI British Midland, Economy Class, 888 lbs CO2/seat
  • Worst: Virgin America Airlines, First Class, 2,774 lbs CO2/seat

#8 Amsterdam -> London (460 miles)
  • Best: KLM-Royal Dutch Airlines, Economy Class, 531 lbs CO2/seat
  • Worst: British Airways, Business Class, 1,609 lbs CO2/seat

#9 Chicago -> New York (1,474 miles)
  • Best: American Airlines, Economy Class, 1,781 lbs CO2/seat
  • Worst: Alitalia, First Class, 5,329 lbs CO2/seat

Continued on page 2!

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