FedEx announced this week that it is looking to achieve carbon–neutral operations globally within the next two decades. To help reach this ambitious target, the cargo powerhouse is designating over $2 billion of initial investment in three key segments. These areas are vehicle electrification, sustainable energy, and carbon sequestration.
FedEx chairman and CEO Frederick W. Smith shares that his company has a responsibility to take strong action in addressing climate challenges. He added that this emission target builds the firm’s longstanding commitment to sustainability throughout its services. The organization is also seeking to continue transforming its business and the wider industry.
The company shares that significant factors to reach its carbon-neutral goal include:
- Vehicle Electrification. The firm wants its entire parcel pickup and delivery (PUD) fleet to be zero-emission by 2040.
- Sustainable Fuels. The company will carry on investing in alternative fuels to cut down on emissions
- Sustainable Customer Solutions. Initiatives such as sustainable packaging and carbon-neutral shipping offerings will be worked on with customers.
- Fuel Conservation and Aircraft Modernization. The FedEx Fuel Sense programs will continue to be worked on, which is designed to reduce fuel consumption in its planes. Since 2012, these initiatives have saved a combined 1.43 billion gallons of jet fuel and avoided over 13.5 million metric tons of CO2 emissions.
- Facilities. Efforts will continue to make FedEx’s 5,000 facilities worldwide more sustainable through continued investments in “efficient facilities, renewable energy, and other energy management programs.”
- Natural Carbon Sequestration. Funding from the airline will help to establish the Yale Center for Natural Carbon Capture “to support applied research into natural carbon sequestration solutions.”
Working with others
Notably, FedEX is pledging $100 million to Yale University to help establish the Yale Center for Natural Carbon Capture. The business hopes this move will catalyze research into methods of carbon sequestration at scale. The initial concentration will be to assist with offsetting greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to present carrier emissions.
Dr. Ingrid C. “Indy” Burke, the Carl W. Knobloch, Jr. Dean of the Yale School of the Environment, said the following about the commitment in a press release seen by Simple Flying.
“Addressing climate change is a complex challenge that demands urgent action, and natural carbon capture strategies will be one key part of that action. Through the creation of the Yale Center for Natural Carbon Capture, we aim to develop measurable carbon capture strategies to help offset carbon emissions globally.”
Keeping the ball rolling
Since 2009, FedEx’s actions have helped to achieve about a 40% reduction in CO2 emissions intensity across the business while package volume increased 99% during this timespan. However, the company understands that it needs to take an even greater stand.
Mitch Jackson, Chief Sustainability Officer, FedEx Corp, added the following in the release:
“While we’ve made great strides in reducing our environmental impact, we have to do more. The long-term health of our industry is directly linked to the health of the planet, but this effort is about more than the bottom line – it’s the right thing to do. At FedEx, we are committed to connecting people and possibilities resourcefully and responsibly. The steps we are taking today will contribute a positive impact for generations to come.”
Altogether, the aviation industry as a whole is continuing to show its commitment to reducing emissions amid the challenges of climate change. With FedEx being such a major player across several industries around the world, it’s important that it is also focused on achieving sustainability goals.
What are your thoughts about FedEx’s commitment to carbon-neutral operations by 2040? Do you feel that this is a good move? Let us know what you think of the goals in the comment section.
How Will Volaris Use Its 100 Strong Aircraft Fleet This Year?
This week, the Mexican low-cost carrier Volaris announced the leasing of an additional eight A320neo aircraft to its fleet in 2021, on top of the three aircraft from its purchase order with Airbus. This way, Volaris plans to close the year with a fleet of at least 98 aircraft.
Volaris is already planning where it will deploy this additional capacity. During the World Aviation Festival today, Volaris’ CEO, Enrique Beltranena, discussed the plans for this year and how the low-cost carrier is seizing the gap in the market left by Grupo Aeromexico and Interjet.
Taking advantage of favorable leasing conditions
Volaris finished 2020 with a fleet of 86 aircraft. It consisted of six A319, 64 A320s, and 16 A321s. It offered an average of 188 seats per aircraft, and 35% of the whole fleet was NEO.
In February, we reported that Volaris expects to receive up to 98 new aircraft between 2021 and 2028. While its Airbus order still stands, now, the airline is leasing new planes to accelerate the growth of its fleet.
In a statement, the airline said,
“Volaris has been able to take advantage of the favorable leasing market conditions under which these aircraft can be added to the fleet, all on long-term leases. Our competitors have been scaling down, and this has represented an unprecedented opportunity for Volaris to add additional healthy capacity.”
The low-cost operator continues to play aggressively in the current environment. There was a moment last year when Volaris seized 50% of the domestic market share in Mexico. While that percentage has reduced to the low forties, it shows how Volaris uses the crisis to consolidate.
Where will Volaris deploy the airplanes?
In 2020, Volaris launched many new routes, including two domestic and seven international in the last quarter alone.
Both Volaris and Viva Aerobus are filling the gap left by the unofficial cease of operations of Interjet. Plus, they’re also benefitting from the leisure and Visiting Friends, and Relatives (VFR) market’s quick recovery.
Now, the question is, where will Volaris deploy its recently leased capacity? Beltranena said,
Where are we going to put that extra capacity? Clearly in the loopholes that were made (after Interjet’s exit and Aeromexico’s Chapter 11). As a result of that, we might add some capacity in Mexico City. But markets like Tijuana, Guadalajara, and Cancun are requesting capacity, and those markets to the US with solid VFR markets are also requesting capacity.”
Mexico’s lost capacity
In 2020, Mexico lost 34% of all its commercial airplanes due to the COVID-19 crisis, said Beltranena. The country went from having 355 aircraft to less than 225 nowadays, which has become Volaris and Viva Aerobus’ opportunity.
For instance, Grupo Aeromexico reduced the size of its fleet by rejecting the leases of 25 aircraft. Only one of those planes was a widebody (a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner). The 24 remaining were Embraer E170 and Boeing 737 NG.
Meanwhile, Interjet’s story was even worse. Interjet went from having a fleet of 88 aircraft (66 Airbus and 22 Sukhoi) to four operational airplanes by December. Then, the airline stopped flying on December 11 and won’t resume operations any time soon (maybe ever).
Then again, one’s crisis is another’s benefit; Volaris and Viva Aerobus have shown that. The two low-costs now control two-thirds of the domestic market. They’re also increasing their presence abroad with new routes to the US and even launching flights to South America.
What do you think of Volaris’ aggressive plan? Let us know in the comments.
How The De Havilland Comet Kickstarted The Jet Age
Next year will mark seven decades of commercial jet travel. The de Havilland DH.106 Comet entered service with BOAC on May 2nd, 1952, and went on to revolutionize the whole aviation market. There were great expectations with the plane, and even though the program wouldn’t last so long, it helped pave the way for a new age in the aviation industry.
New requirements for a new era
The Brabazon Committee was formed in 1943, which had the task of determining the United Kingdom’s aviation needs after the end of the Second World War. The group felt that the country needed a pressurized transatlantic mail plane. The desire was to transport 2,200 lb of payload at a cruising speed of 400 mph.
At the time, it was believed that jet engines consumed too much fuel and were unreliable. Jets were deployed in World War II but were yet to be entered into passenger service. However, de Havilland had faith in the technology.
Overall, Sir Geoffrey de Havilland used his experience and reputation to get the project off the ground. Thus, the first commercial jet airliner in the world took to the skies for the first time on July 27th, 1949, which was also Sir Geoffrey’s 67th birthday. Moreover, chief test pilot John Cunningham was also celebrating his birthday that day.
Plenty to be excited about
There were several benefits to be had with the aircraft. It was approximately 50% quicker than its piston counterparts at the time. Flights from London to Tokyo were taking up to 86.5 hours during this period, but the Comet only took 36 hours. There were also several other advantages across the board.
“The DH106 Comet was only 93 feet in length, almost 15 feet shorter than its main competitor the Douglas DC6B. It carried fewer people although this was in a significantly more spacious environment and BOAC opted to install 36 reclining ‘slumber-seats’ with 45-inch (1,100 mm) centres thus allowing for greater leg room in front and behind. Air France chose 11 rows of seats with four seats to a row installed,” BAE Systems shares.
“In the BOAC configuration, the large window and table seating gave a feeling of comfort and luxury, highly unusual for passenger air travel of the period. Other luxuries included a galley, serving hot and cold food and drinks, plus a bar and even separate men’s and women’s toilets. The structure also provided space for emergency situations including life-rafts, stored in the wings near the engines, and individual life-jackets were stowed under each seat.”
BAE Systems also notes that the Comet was notably quiet compared to other aircraft on the scene. The plane offered “vibration-free flying” due to the difference that a jet engine would make compared with a propeller vehicle.
Over 30,000 passengers were transported in the first year of service. Moreover, at least eight flights with the aircraft took off from London weekly. These operations headed to the likes of Colombo, Johannesburg, Singapore, and Tokyo.
Key operators of the Comet series included:
- Aerolineas Argentinas
- Air France
- East African Airways
- Olympic Airways
- United Arab Airlines
- Union Aeromaritime de Transport (UAT)
Despite the revolutionary achievements, the plane’s early operations didn’t go so smoothly. There was a series of crashes that resulted in the being grounded multiple times in the mid-1950s. Notably, the issues with the plane became a national concern. Even Winston Churchill, the UK’s prime minister, expressed that finding a solution to the mystery of the accidents was a high priority. Overall, the world had its eyes on the British aviation industry.
Despite the extensive testing, which saw a Comet being submerged repeatedly underwater, and the improved construction that followed, the Comet 1 and its successors, the Comet 2 and 3, would not serve another passenger. The Comet 4 would see some success with a handful of airlines, but by this time, the rest of the industry caught up with the jet trend.
In total, including prototypes, 114 units of the type were built between 1949 and 1964. The plane had swiftly been overtaken by competitors in the passenger realm. However, it wasn’t until 1997 when it was finally retired for the last time. This final aircraft was the Royal Air Force’s Comet 4C XS235.
The one that kicked it all off
Altogether, the de Havilland Comet was the aircraft that kicked of a new era in the industry. The jet age has brought countless new opportunities within the travel industry. The increase in speed and lower costs that came with the jet enabled the wider society to hit the skies for the very first time. This age may have lasted until now, but following Comet’s introduction, it was a genuine craze around the world.
The likes of Boeing and Douglas soon introduced their own here with the 707 and DC-8, respectively. These American manufacturers became powerhouses in the field in subsequent decades. Meanwhile, the Comet never managed to make a comeback following the series of tragedies that occurred following its entry into service.
The damage was simply done, and others filled in the gap. Nonetheless, the initial breakthrough of the Comet and the should not be forgotten. Perhaps it was just introduced slightly too early for the industry. Regardless, it was the jetliner that started it all.
What are your thoughts about the de Havilland DH.106 Comet? What do you make of the plane’s impact over the years? Let us know what you think of the aircraft and its operations in the comment section.
Banning Short Haul Flight Could Destroy Electric Flight Innovation
Speaking as part of the World Aviation Festival’s Sustainability Panel on Wednesday, KLM’s Vice President for Sustainability, Karel Bockstael, commented on the forthcoming short-haul flight ban that will impact sister carrier Air France. While he stated that we are all in a battle against climate change, he also cautioned against measures that could potentially disrupt innovations in sustainable flight in the long term.
Alternative guidance needed in the long term
Earlier this month, French lawmakers voted in favor of a bill set to ban flights on routes where there are available train connections in under two and a half hours. The new law was first introduced as part of the environmental strings attached to the government’s aid package to its flag carrier.
Mr Bockstael generally applauds objective regulations that are compatible with fighting climate change. However, he also said that it must be made sure that long-term innovation will not suffer in the process when it came to banning short routes.
“Of course, we understand that trains replacing flights in the current situation might be a good solution. (…) On the other hand, especially on short routes, we must make sure that we are not destroying any innovation, because on the short routes we expect that we will have electric flight and hydrogen flight,” Mr Bockstael said, adding that in the long term alternative guidance would be needed.
Routes to deploy upcoming models are crucial
Most electric aircraft currently in the pipeline to enter service within the decade are constructed for the short-haul commuter market. While 20 years from now you may be able to buy a ticket for a 100-seater electric aircraft, there is still some way to go in terms of batteries and capacity.
However, to get there, it must first be profitable for companies to make and market their predecessors. They must also be able to funnel money back into R&D. Governments must also provide incentives to assist in the decarbonization of aviation. This is unlikely to occur if there are no routes on which to deploy electric planes with commercial success.
Yesterday, we reported that Norway’s Green Party is also in favor of banning shorter services, despite the country’s reliance on regional connectivity. They also suggest introducing individual flight quotas.
Infrastructure essential for hub carriers
Of its own accord, KLM has already introduced an air-to-rail service, where travelers connecting to Brussels from Schiphol disembark the aircraft and board a train for their last leg of the journey. Or vice versa if they are heading in the other direction.
Trains and aircraft working together are entirely dependent on good infrastructure. Especially for hub carriers such as Air France and KLM, the offers need to be comparable so as not to create an uneven playing field.
Corporate clients have their own value chain
KLM is betting big on biofuel for its sustainability targets. It is doing a good job at selling the use of sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs), which is still two to four times more expensive than traditional jet fuel, to its corporate and cargo clients.
“You have to remember that our business customers, our corporate customers, they also have their own enterprise responsibility in terms of decarbonization. So in the value chain, we see that especially on the business to business, there’s a lot of interest, and also readiness to pay a premium also up to the level of SAF.”
What do you think of restrictions on short-haul flights? Are they a temporary good solution or a potential long-term innovation disruptor? Leave a comment below and let us know.
JetBlue Invests In Hydrogen Powered Flight
JetBlue today revealed a sizable investment in the realization of hydrogen-powered flight. The US hybrid carrier’s technology venture subsidiary invested $20.5 million into Universal Hydrogen, which hopes to make hydrogen flight a reality.
Across the globe, airlines are acutely aware of their need to increase the sustainability of flight while cutting emissions. As such, many airlines have committed to net-carbon zero goals by 2050. However, many such technologies remain a long way off and will need significant investment now to really get off the ground. One avenue being explored by several unrelated parties is the possibility of hydrogen-powered flight.
JetBlue’s hydrogen investment
JetBlue today revealed the part that it is playing in securing the next generation of aircraft power. The airline invested $20,500,000 into Universal Hydrogen through one of its subsidiaries. But who is Universal Hydrogen? According to JetBlue, the company is seeking to build a fuel distribution network.
However, while traditional jet fuel relies on pipes, fuel trucks, and refillable fuel tanks, Universal Hydrogen has a different idea in mind. The company is seeking to create a process where newly produced hydrogen would be placed directly into modular capsules. These would then be transported to airports using existing freight networks. The empty hydrogen capsules would be replaced by full ones at the airport, like changing the batteries in your TV remote.
The company also wants to retrofit 40-60 regional aircraft to run on modular hydrogen. It hopes to fly the first commercial flight with such an aircraft in 2025 and even suggests that operating costs would eventually be cheaper than their kerosene-based siblings.
Commenting on the investment, Jim Lockheed, Investment Principal at JetBlue Technology Ventures, said,
“Our investment in Universal Hydrogen is highly aligned with JetBlue’s environmental objectives, and this partnership allows the airline a seat at the table in the fast-developing hydrogen for aviation sector and provides valuable insight into the options, progress, and viability of hydrogen to help decarbonize aircraft operations.”
A long way off?
As mentioned, Universal Hydrogen wants to begin operating commercial hydrogen-powered flights in just four years. However, some feel the technology may take quite a bit longer to be scaled up and rolled out across the board.
Speaking last week, British Airways CEO Sean Doyle suggested that it will take until 2050 for emission-free flight technologies such as hydrogen to really get off the ground. In the meantime, Doyle revealed that sustainable aviation fuels would be vital in reducing the industry’s environmental impact.
Sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs) are another avenue being explored by JetBlue. In August last year, JetBlue revealed that it had become the first US airline to achieve carbon-neutral flying on all of its domestic flights, thanks in part to SAFs, but also through carbon offsetting.
What do you make of JetBlue’s investment in hydrogen-powered flight? Let us know what you think and why in the comments below!
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