Saving Fuel By Going Slow and Losing a Few Olives

The price of airline travel is expensive compared with other modes of transport. No matter how airlines display prices the end cost of ticket normally ends up being high. There are good reasons for high prices. The amount of staff, staff training, equipment, aircraft, real estate all add up to a relatively complex and expensive form of travel. Most would agree the benefits of air travel do outweigh the drawbacks. One of the biggest expenses to airlines is fuel. The price of jet fuel can fluctuate just as much as the cost of gas (petroleum) at the pump. So airlines are always looking for creative ways to burn less fuel. It’s important to remember that airlines are required to carry enough fuel to fly to the destination, and then to an alternate, and additional reserve fuel (30 minutes for jets, 45 minutes for non-jets). Speed Speed has a big role¬†when it comes to the amount of fuel aircraft burn. Just like in a car, there are speeds where aircraft are more efficient. Aircraft weight, temperature and pressure affect this speed. There are ¬†very few airlines that fly at “full speed ahead” as there are higher fuel burns at higher power settings. Some airlines build flexibly into their procedures, so pilots can slow down if they are early and speed up if they are running late. Finding the magic speed for the best cost savings can vary, as flying slow also increase the amount of time the aircraft is in the air, raising maintenance and staffing costs. Here are some examples of how big airlines save (2008): Southwest Airlines adds... read more