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Wizz Air is one of the most aggressive airlines in Europe. It is growing fast with a take no prisoners approach. While a fierce competitor in European airspace, the airline is also trying to be a good environmental corporate citizen. Now, the Budapest-based airline says CO2 emissions across the European airline industry would fall by 34% if all European airlines matched the age of the Wizz Air fleet.
Wizz Air’s CCO says other airlines could reduce CO2 emissions by following Wizz’s lead. Photo: Getty Images.
Wizz eyes a net-zero carbon future
According to the Air Transport Action Group, in the last year of normal flying, 2019, airlines worldwide produced 915 million tonnes of CO2, or around 2% of all human-induced CO2 emissions.
Despite the low baseline figure, the problem for the airline industry is that its contribution to CO2 emissions was growing. The high-profile nature of the airline industry and its various operators also adds to the pressure on the industry to reduce its CO2 emissions.
Like most contemporary airlines, Wizz Air is pursuing a net-zero carbon emissions goal. Wizz wants to get there by 2050. But getting there involves a wide-ranging series of steps. Wizz is chasing an ambitious 20% year-on-year increase in fuel efficiency improvements and a 25% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 to get it on its way.
Wizz Air is chasing net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Photo: Getty Images
CCO says European airlines could cut CO2 emissions by 34% by following Wizz’s lead
Key to achieving this is introducing new fuel-efficient planes. Already it appears to be paying dividends. In an exclusive webinar interview with Simple Flying, George Michalopoulos, Chief Commercial Officer at Wizz Air makes some bold calls. He says the airline is the greenest in Europe. The CCO suggests if other European airlines operated an identical fleet to Wizz (in terms of age and composition), Europe’s airlines would substantially reduce their CO2 emissions.
Wizz Air operates a fleet of 124 Airbus A320 and A321 aircraft. According to the online airline database ch-aviation.com, Wizz has 62 Airbus A320-200s, six A320-200neos, 31 Airbus A3210-200s, and 13 Airbus A321-200NXs. Wizz Air has a further 240 single-aisle Airbus aircraft on order. The majority of that order comprises A321-200NXs.
“If you take the European airlines, and if they were to operate on with this fleet, average age 5.04 years, they would reduce CO2 emissions by 34%, which is roughly 20 million tonnes in a year,” Michalopoulos says.
“It’s really all about technology. The latest technology reduces emissions significantly,” the CCO adds. “We’ve continued to renew the fleet, we’ve continued to hand back older technology aircraft, whereas a number of other airlines in Europe have stopped taking orders and continue to age their fleet.”
Wizz’s CCO says young technologically advanced aircraft are key to reducing CO2 emissions. Photo: Getty Images
Packing more passengers into planes impacts Wizz’s environmental statistics
George Michalopoulos justifies his greenest airline in Europe claim by measuring CO2 emissions in grams against revenue passenger kilometers.
“That’s how we justify it,” the Wizz Air CCO told Simple Flying’s Joanna Bailey.
Wizz’s latest monthly CO2 emissions report reveals CO2 emissions in June 2021 were 76.5 grams per revenue passenger kilometer. This is down 19% from the June 2020 figure of 94.1 grams per revenue passenger kilometer.
While Wizz’s fleet is young, most airlines recognize the economic and environmental benefits of fleet renewal and are pursuing similar strategies. Packing more passengers into planes is a better short-term explanation of Wizz’s current eco-credentials. The more passengers per plane versus a competitor flying a similar sized and similar age aircraft, the better the per passenger CO2 emissions at Wizz.
“The key is is the number of seats onboard. I mean, we get 239 seats on an A321neo versus Ryanair, which gets down to 197 seats,” Michalopoulos admits. Those squeezy cabins are one of the secrets to Wizz’s environmental success. It is also a reason why the airline can trot out its impressive eco-stats.
This article first appeared on simpleflying.com
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