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 Atlantic’s Carbon Calculator Helps Travelers Understand the Impact of Air Travel, By Dave Pflieger

Air travel is a highly intensive creator of greenhouse gasses. With 2-3% of the world’s greenhouse-gas emissions produced by commercial aircraft, taking a flight has an impact on the environment. Virgin Atlantic was one of the first airlines to publish their greenhouse gas emissions and is working to help reduce greenhouse emissions through greener practices as well as through offsetting carbon emissions.

With the Virgin Atlantic’s Carbon Calculator, found at, travelers can calculate the amount of carbon needed to offset their travel. For example a round trip economy flight from New York City to Los Angeles would cost about $16 to offset. Those dollars would help to reduce or remove the carbon emitted from the flight so there is no net gain in greenhouse gasses.

Virgin Atlantic aims to be transparent about the carbon impact of their flights, as well as to partner with organizations that find innovative solutions to climate change.

About the Author: Currently the CEO and Managing Director of Air Pacific, Ltd., Dave Pflieger has served as Senior Vice President at Virgin America, where he also served as a pilot. David Pflieger trained as a pilot and an attorney, he has experience both as general counsel and as a pilot and flight instructor.