Going around?

29 July 2021

Overshooting the runway

We've used up earth's carbon resources for this year.

Today is Earth Overshoot Day, defined as:

The date when humanity’s demand for ecological resources and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year.

In aviation terms, overshooting is bad news. It could mean that you have missed the runway altogether, landed long or short, so the analogy is apt. The outcome is not great in either circumstance, but at least if you overshoot your runway on approach you might have a chance to go-around. Without being too much of a doomsayer, there might not be much of a chance to go-around when it comes to our planet. No second chances.

Let's assume for a moment that global air transport carbon is approximately 5% of global output, that equals 8.3% of the earth's carbon budget (Rough calculation: 7 months/12 = 0.6, 5%/0.6 = 8.3%.)

This really puts into perspective the importance of picking the flight with the smallest carbon emission. It could not be clearer.

Carbon Comparison

JFK John F. Kennedy International Airport
LHR London Heathrow Airport
  1. JETBLUEAirbus A321 neo~940 kg CO2

  2. Virgin AtlanticAirbus A350-1000~1169 kg CO2

  3. BRITISH AIRWAYSBoeing 777-300ER~1361 kg CO2

We have made the above comparison before but it's worth repeating. JetBlue's entry into this market crystallises the massive difference the right aircraft makes when flying a given route. The A350-1000 is a great aircraft for long and ultra-long haul flights, just not for this particular one.

Carbon Comparison

FRA Frankfurt am Main Airport
IST Istanbul Airport
  1. LUFTHANSAAirbus A321 neo~314 kg CO2

  2. PEGASUSAirbus A320~393 kg CO2

  3. TURKISHBoeing 737-800~433 kg CO2

Here is another route example. This one is even operated by two Star Alliance members, which means you can pick Lufthansa over Turkish Airlines and still get points for your frequent flyer account, not that it should really matter.

Sign-up for Updates