This report compares the fuel efficiency of 20 airlines operating nonstop flights between the mainland United States and East Asia and Oceania. It extends the previous transatlantic fuel efficiency methodology to the transpacific market.
Hainan Airlines and All Nippon Airways (ANA) were the most fuel-efficient airlines on transpacific operations in 2016, both with an average fuel efficiency of 36 passenger-kilometers per liter of fuel (pax-km/L). Qantas Airways ranked as the least fuel-efficient, burning an average of 64% more fuel per passenger-kilometer than Hainan and ANA.
Freight share was found to be the most important driver of fuel efficiency overall, explaining almost half of the variation in airline fuel efficiency across carriers, followed by seating density, which accounted for nearly one quarter of the variation. Aircraft fuel burn and passenger load factors were relatively less important.
There was an inverse relationship between aircraft size and fuel efficiency on transpacific operations – as aircraft weight, or maximum takeoff mass (MTOM), increases, fuel efficiency declines. This is predominantly because aircraft with four engines are generally less fuel-efficient than those with two.
The estimated gap between the most and least fuel-efficient transpacific airlines was wider than was observed on transatlantic routes in 2014. This may be due to the incorporation of actual, as opposed to estimated, belly freight carriage into this report.
Simplified online carbon calculators, such as the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO’s) carbon calculator, produced estimates of average aircraft fuel burn and fuel efficiency comparable to the findings of this report. ICAO’s carbon calculator does not quantify carrier- or flight-specific estimates, however, with results varying significantly for carriers that are much more or less efficient than average.
International Council on Clean Transportation 2018