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For Immediate Release, September 10, 2013

Contact: Patrick Sullivan, (415) 632-5316,  

Airline Report Card Finds Huge Fuel-efficiency Gap,
Highlighting Need for EPA Rules to Fight Greenhouse Pollution

Alaska Airlines Soars in New Rankings; American, Allegiant Scrape Bottom

SAN FRANCISCO— A new report showing a 26 percent gap between the most and least fuel-efficient airlines serving the U.S. domestic market sharply clarifies the need for the Environmental Protection Agency to finally curb greenhouse gas emissions from the heavily polluting aviation industry. Airlines are one of the fastest-growing sources of carbon dioxide pollution, a key driver of the global climate crisis.

Alaska Airlines was the most fuel-efficient carrier in the report released today by the highly respected International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT). American Airlines and Allegiant were the least efficient, according to the council’s ranking of the 15 mainline domestic carriers operating in the United States. The report uses publicly available data and adjusts for variations among airlines’ different business operations, networks and scales.

“This report blows a massive hole in claims that the airline industry is already doing everything it can to cut greenhouse gas pollution,” said Kassie Siegel, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute. “The EPA has to set common-sense rules that push inefficient airlines to curb their emissions. We obviously need strong federal action to protect our climate from aviation’s growing pollution problem.”

The Center and other environmental organizations filed a lawsuit in 2011 to force the EPA to set aviation greenhouse gas pollution standards. A federal judge quickly ruled that the EPA must address greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft under the Clean Air Act. But the agency has still not finished the first step in the rule-making process. 

Airlines have long claimed that fuel costs already force them to reduce greenhouse pollution by operating as efficiently as possible, but the ICCT report shows that dramatic emission reductions are clearly feasible. 

Aviation accounts for about 12 percent of carbon dioxide emissions from the U.S. transportation sector and is one of the fastest-growing sources of carbon pollution, rising 3 percent to 4 percent a year. Per person, Americans are responsible for twice as much aviation CO2 pollution as Europeans.

Click to download higher resolution image
Figure courtesy International Council on Clean Transportation ( High resolution versions are available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 625,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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