Reporting Greenhouse Gas Emissions Cuts Airline’s Carbon Emissions

Virgin America pic
Climate Registry
Image: theclimateregistry.org

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.

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