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Friday, March 7, 2008

Carrying 5 passengers on a modern flight

Imagine the lap of luxury; you are one of only 5 passengers traveling on a modern fully equipped airliner, with 2 crew members per passenger. Sounds like having your own luxury private jet, does it not ? Well, as it turned out, this was a regular commercial flight across the Atlantic where American Airlines carried 5 passengers (and in their defence, a full cargo load). In a time when there is worry about the environmental impact of the modern jet passengers and the amount of fuel that they burn and pollute the atmosphere with, carrying only 5 passengers means that each passengers is roughly responsible for a footprint of 35.77 tonnes of carbon dioxide, the same as driving a car for 100,000 miles:

"Flying virtually empty planes is an obscene waste of fuel. Through no fault of their own, each passenger's carbon footprint for this flight is about 45 times what it would have been if the plane had been full," Friends of the Earth's transport campaigner Richard Dyer said. Because of a mechanical malfunction, AA flight 90 was 14 hours late leaving Chicago's O'Hare airport on February 8. Though most passengers made other arrangements to London, five lucky passengers unable to be rebooked made the 6,400 kilometer (4,000 mile) flight in business class, with two crew members per passenger.
"With such a small passenger load we did consider whether we could cancel the flight and re-accommodate the five remaining passengers on other flights," says American Airlines' European spokesperson Anneliese Morris. "However, this would have left a plane load of west-bound passengers stranded in London Heathrow who were due to fly to the U.S. on the same aircraft." Morris was quick to point out that despite the staggeringly low passenger count, the flight did carry a full cargo load.

The answer from the airline was expected, but one wonders as to how seriously does the airline business consider the environmental impact of their business ?

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