British Airways emits up to 45% more carbon per passenger than its rivals do, according to Which?.
The consumer watchdog analysed six major international routes with data provided by carbon analytics firm Flyzen. It revealed that the UK’s flag carrier was the most polluting airline in terms of carbon emissions.
The research found that a single British Airways passenger flying between London Heathrow and Miami contributed to 1.13 tonnes of carbon emissions. In comparison, the same route flown with Virgin Atlantic would produce just 860.9kg of carbon per passenger. For a return journey, that amounts to a saving of 544kg of carbon emissions for flying with Virgin Atlantic – the same as more than two months of electricity usage for the average British home.
Short-haul flights were found to be similarly polluting from a British Airways standpoint. The carbon emissions per passenger on a BA flight from London Stansted to Palma de Mallorca is almost double that of some budget airlines including Ryanair, Jet2 and Tui.
Which? said British Airways are more polluting per passenger because they use older wide-bodied aircraft which guzzle more fuel, while they also accommodate a greater number of first-class and business-class passengers whose seats take up more space than those of economy passengers.
“These figures show that swapping to a greener airline will allow many of us concerned about climate change to immediately and significantly reduce our individual carbon footprint,” said Rory Boland, travel editor at Which?.
“If millions of us were to switch to a less polluting airline on our next holiday, it would bring pressure to bear on the worst polluting airlines and force them to prioritise their impact on the environment by introducing more efficient aircraft and cleaner fuels.”
However, British Airways questioned the accuracy and relevance of the data. A spokesperson for BA said: “The conversation about climate change is too important to be undermined by the for-profit organisation Which? using shoddy research based on data which is several years out of date.
“Which? only looked at 2% of our flights and their paid-for calculations, hidden behind a pay wall, are completely at odds with the figures calculated by the range of airlines they claim to have investigated.
“We are committed to net zero by 2050 and we are open to discussion on our approach to reducing our carbon emissions with anyone who is interested in accurate and robust data.
“We are tackling climate change by developing sustainable aviation fuels and opting for greener aircraft. We are currently operating more than 40 new and fuel-efficient aircraft and have a further 73 on order. These are 25% to 40% more fuel-efficient than those they replace.”
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