Virgin Atlantic Reveals 100,000 Tonnes of CO2 Savings

By: Maxine Sheppard

November 13, 2012

New, innovative computer software will save Virgin Atlantic almost £20 million and reduce fuel emissions by 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually, it has emerged.

Using sophisticated analysis, it pin points accurately where fuel can be used more efficiently, monitoring 300 different points during each flight and enabling us to reduce fuel burn significantly.

As a result we can now monitor and improve:

  • How arrival delays and holding patterns at destinations increase fuel burn
  • How pilot technique, flight plans and maintenance activities can improve fuel efficiency
  • How airline activity on the ground impacts fuel burn

Further improvements and information gleaned from the software – developed by OSyS, a subsidiary of Rolls Royce – are expected to provide us with even more savings in the future.


Virgin Atlantic looks to cement its place amongst the world's greenest airlines Virgin Atlantic looks to cement its place amongst the world’s greenest airlines


Details were published when we released our latest annual Sustainability Report, as we look to cement our place amongst the world’s greenest airlines. Within the report, we also revealed that we’re on track to meet our ambitious target to reduce CO2 emissions by 30% between 2007 and 2020.

Virgin Atlantic Chief Executive Steve Ridgway said: “We want to be one of the leading airlines on sustainability, driving solutions for our industry. We are known for our innovation, and our adventurous spirit means we’re not afraid to push boundaries in following our sustainability agenda.

“An airline striving to be green is not the contradiction in terms that people may think and this report is a further statement of our commitment to meet those green ambitions.”  Fuel efficiency is the most crucial pillar in our sustainability plans, and in the last twelve months we’ve moved forward rapidly with a number of changes and operational improvements.


One of Virgin Atlantic's new Airbus A330s One of our new Airbus A330s


In addition to the savings which will be delivered through the fuel management software, our future fuel use is expected to be significantly reduced due to this year’s introduction of seven new Airbus A330 aircraft. Each aircraft is up to 15% more fuel efficient on a per-seat basis than the aircraft they replace in the Virgin Atlantic fleet.

Meanwhile work is continuing with New Zealand-based company LanzaTech on a world-first low-carbon aviation fuel using waste gases that would otherwise be burnt into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide.

Steve Ridgway continued: “Fuel use is our number one environmental issue – as well as a significant financial one.”


A record-breaking year

Also within the Sustainability Report is the news that 2011 was a record-breaking year for fundraising for our charity partner Free the Children. £1.5million was raised through passenger donations, staff volunteering and flight and cargo assistance.


On the back of this the airline has announced that it is extending its three year partnership with the charity for another three years, with one of the key projects being an Adopt a Village initiative with a new partner community in Takoradi, Ghana.

To download the full 2012 Sustainability Report and for more information about Virgin Atlantic’s Change is in the Air sustainability programme see

Calculations on fuel and carbons savings are calculated by the following:

·         Virgin Atlantic estimates it could save up to 1.4 tonnes of fuel per flight.

·         Each tonne of fuel saved will save 3.15 tonnes of CO2.

·         This equates to 4.41 tonnes CO2 saved per flight.

·         Multiplied by 21,000 flights a year means 92,610 tonnes of CO2 saved a year.


Maxine Sheppard

Maxine is the co-editor of the Virgin Atlantic blog. Travel and music are her joint first loves, and despite having written for Virgin for more years than she cares to remember she still loves nothing more than jumping on a plane in search of new sights and new sounds.

Categories: Our Future