Reporting Greenhouse Gas Emissions Cuts Airline’s Carbon Emissions

Virgin America pic
Climate Registry

As President & CEO of Ravn Air Group in Alaska, David “Dave” Pflieger has held executive positions at seven different airlines including Delta Air Lines, Song, Virgin America, Fiji Airways, Silver Airways, and Larry Ellison’s Hawaii Island Air.

During his tenure at Virgin America, David Pflieger led the company to become the first airline in the U.S. to register its greenhouse gas emissions. More specifically, Virgin America was the first airline in the country to report its third-party verified carbon footprint in accordance with the globally accepted standards of The Climate Registry in 2008. The greenhouse gas emissions reported represented the environmental emissions from the entire Virgin America organization, including flight, ground, and corporate operations. The data was gathered with the help of the EPA to identify the sources of emissions, devise ways to reduce emissions, and track progress.

This practice of reporting greenhouse gas emissions helped the airline track and significantly reduce its greenhouse gas footprint. Notably, in its first year of reporting, Virgin America’s organization-wide carbon emissions per 1,000 seat miles were 166.24 metric tons.

Six years later in 2014, the organizations’ carbon emissions per 1,000 seat miles were down to 133.80 metric tons.
In addition, once the company realized that older fleets were neither fuel efficient nor good for the environment — due to high carbon emissions— it made a huge investment in new aircraft and a younger fleet.

As a result of that decision, Virgin now has one of the country’s youngest fleets, which consumes, on average, 15 percent less fuel and has 15% lower GHGs than other domestic U.S. fleets.


Virgin America Leads the U.S. Airline Industry in Green Practices By Dave Pflieger

The airline industry is well known for being a heavy producer of greenhouse gasses – aviation accounts for two percent of greenhouse gas production worldwide. However, the relatively new U.S. carrier Virgin America has been ranked by Greenopia as the greenest domestic airline due to its fuel conservation, recycling programs, and other green practices.

Virgin America’s relatively new fleet of airplanes aids in its fuel efficiency, but the airline also makes a conscious effort to equip their aircraft with the best in fuel efficient technology and employs fuel-saving practices like single-engine taxiing and reduced thrust takeoffs. Virgin America also leads in green building efforts. For example, their headquarters are LEED Silver Certified, a designation for green building developed by the U.S. Green Building Council.

In addition, Virgin America was one of the first U.S. airlines to make public it’s greenhouse gas emissions, and the Virgin parent company has pioneered the practice of offering carbon offset programs to customers.

About the author: Dave Pflieger is the CEO and Managing Director of Air Pacific, Ltd., Fiji’s national airline. An experienced airline executive who served as Senior Vice President at Virgin America, Mr. Pflieger is also an attorney and former military pilot and flight instructor.

An Overview of Air Pacific

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Founded in 1951 by renowned aviator, navigator, and inventor Harold George Gatty, Fiji’s international airline Air Pacific has been going strong ever since. Currently run by Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer David Pflieger, Air Pacific flies more than 400 flights every week to 10 countries across the globe, carrying a total of over one million passengers a year. The airline has more than 800 employees, making it a major employer in Fiji.

A longtime member of the airline industry, CEO David Pflieger understands the importance of how the world connects through air travel. The Air Pacific fleet includes Boeing 747, 767, 737, ATR-42 and DHC6 Twin Otter planes that fly to Hong Kong, Australia, the United States, New Zealand, Samoa, Tonga, and more.

Air Pacific provides passengers both business and economy class, respectively dubbed Tabua Class and Pacific Voyager. Tabua Class offers a three-course meal and a wide selection of wines and liqueurs in addition to individual screens with 21 channels to choose from. Pacific Voyager presents a relaxed and friendly environment for the economy traveler, including in-flight entertainment and snacks inspired by South Pacific cuisine.

The World’s Most Environmentally Friendly Airline By David Pflieger

Recently declared the world’s most eco-friendly airline, Virgin America is continuously making efforts to reduce its carbon footprint while also encouraging passengers to join in. Virgin America is committed to company-wide change and has taken several steps to heighten its green initiatives, including introducing new eco-efficient aircrafts, buying office energy from renewable resources, and providing means for customers to purchase carbon offsets that reduce personal use of fossil fuels.

Not content to rest with their carbon neutrality efforts, Virgin America and the rest of the Virgin Group, founded by Sir Richard Branson, are actively seeking new ways to improve their environmental impact. In 2008, the company tested an aircraft that utilized biofuel harvested from coconuts. Currently, Virgin Atlantic, the European arm of the Virgin Air Group, is lobbying for continent-wide reduction of airplane emissions by creating a one-sky partnership between airlines. This effort is designed to cut down the number of European flights by trading open seats between different companies, ensuring that all seats are booked per flight and lowering travel redundancy and wasted fuel for partially filled planes.

About the Author: David Pflieger, former Senior Vice President of Legal and Government Affairs, General Counsel, at Virgin America and now CEO and Managing Director of Air Pacific, was instrumental in many aspects of Virgin America’s environmental initiatives, including providing the Climate Registry with the company’s greenhouse gas emissions statistics.