oneworld airlines' commitment to the environment as strong as ever despite facing biggest financial challenges yet

05 August 2009

While the airline industry is facing its biggest financial challenges yet with the world economy in its biggest downturn in a generation, the determination of airlines in the oneworld® alliance to minimise their impact on the environment is as resolute as ever.

The cornerstone of this commitment is their fleet modernization programmes, with the alliance's member airlines in the midst of re-equipping their fleets with more than 1 325 of the latest, most fuel efficient and quietest aircraft, worth more than US$150 billion.

Since the year 2000, they have taken delivery of more than 675 of these more environmentally friendly aircraft, worth in excess of US$65 billion.  Of these, 85 have entered service in the past year alone, worth some US$15 billion.

Their combined order book for new aircraft has grown in the past year to stand now at more than 650, worth in excess of US$90 billion - 60 more commitments for new aircraft, worth US$15 billion, than a year ago.

These new aircraft, and a host of other measures, have helped the alliance's carriers improve their fuel efficiency markedly in the past decade - and will play a key part in enabling them to meet their stretching targets for further fuel efficiency in future years, of up to 50 per cent by 2050 with intermediate goals of 25 per cent cuts by 2025, while reducing noise and other environmental impacts.

Each airline in oneworld has its own comprehensive programme for minimising its impact on the environment - programmes which are widely recognised as being among the most responsible and progressive in an industry which on a total global basis generates less than 2 per cent of the world's total emissions of greenhouse gases.

Besides their fleet modernisation programmes, steps taken by airlines in the alliance include:

  • Reducing the weight of their aircraft so they burn less fuel and create less noise.
  • Offering passengers the ability to offset the carbon emissions produced by their flights by making donations to abatement programmes (British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Dragonair, Japan Airlines and Qantas).
  • Installing experimental wind turbines to generate electricity for office lighting (Cathay Pacific).
  • Recycling paper, plastic, aluminum, glass and even wine bottle corks.
  • More stringent aircraft and engine cleaning procedures, to reduce drag, improve efficiency and therefore fuel consumption.

Many of them are also leading participants in industry efforts to develop cleaner, more sustainable aviation fuels and in groups working towards equitable global approaches towards handling the industry's emissions compliance and trading.

They are also all active participants and supporters of environmental activities co-ordinated by the international industry bodies - globally by IATA (the International Air Transport Association) and regionally by the Association of European Airlines, the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines, the USA's Air Transport Association and the counterparts elsewhere.

With its member airlines already working on environmental programmes on these three levels - globally through IATA, regionally through the regional airline associations and individually - they have elected not to add a fourth level in the form of an alliance environmental programme, believing this would simply duplicate, fragment and reduce their focus on their existing extensive environmental activities.

oneworld does, however, makes a contribution to each of their environmental efforts.  For instance, oneworld in April 2005 became the first global airline grouping to enable passengers to connect between flights operated by any member airline using electronic tickets only - eradicating each year millions of traditional paper tickets which were thrown away after use. 

Also, oneworld airlines are individually and collectively working with authorities responsible for airports and air traffic control (ATC) to address the single largest cause of fuel wastage in the industry - inefficient management of air traffic space.

oneworld Managing Partner John McCulloch said: "oneworld and our member airlines are all determined to do everything we can to care for the world we serve with vital transport links - and this commitment has not wavered despite these tough financial times.

"Airlines connect people, places and cultures and help keep commerce in business. We're proud of that.  But we recognise that the freedom air travel brings has an impact.  That is why oneworld airlines are leading the industry in minimising the environmental effects of air travel."

A summary of the key steps taken by each airline in the alliance in their environmental programmes is given in a new fact sheet posted on the alliance's website.  See


All aircraft values are based on manufacturers' list prices.

About oneworld

oneworld brings together some of the best and biggest names in the airline business - American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, LAN, Malév Hungarian Airlines, Qantas and Royal Jordanian, and around 20 affiliates including American Eagle, Dragonair, LAN Argentina, LAN Ecuador and LAN Peru.  Mexicana and its affiliate Click Mexicana will join the alliance in 2009 and Russia's S7 Airlines in 2010.

Between them, these airlines:

  • Serve almost 750 airports in nearly 150 countries, with some 8 500 daily departures.
  • Offer nearly 550 airport lounges for premium customers.
  • Carry some 330 million passengers a year.
  • Employ 300 000 people.
  • Operate almost 2 500 aircraft.
  • Generate some US$100 billion annual revenues in total.

It is the only alliance with any airlines based in Australia, South America or Asia's Middle East.

The alliance enables its members to offer their customers more services and benefits than any airline can provide on its own.  These include a broader route network, opportunities to earn and redeem frequent flyer miles and points across the combined oneworld network and more airport lounges.   oneworld also offers more alliance fares than any of its competitors.

oneworld was voted the World's Leading Airline Alliance for the sixth year running in the latest (2008) World Travel Awards.   It is the only winner of this award since it was introduced in 2003.