British Airways accused of emitting more CO2 than rival airlines

17 January 2020, 08:32

File photo: British Airways has been criticised for its carbon emissions
File photo: British Airways has been criticised for its carbon emissions. Picture: PA

By Megan White

British Airways has been accused of emitting up to 45 per cent more CO2 per passenger compared with rival airlines on identical routes by new research.

The flag carrier has the worst carbon emissions performance on two-thirds of the routes analysed by Which? Travel.

But the airline hit back, branding the inquiry "shoddy" and claiming the figures are outdated and inaccurate.

The investigation found that one passenger flying from Heathrow to Miami with British Airways would be responsible for 1,133kg of carbon, which is almost a third more than the figure of 861kg for the same journey with Virgin Atlantic.

On the Stansted to Palma de Mallorca route, British Airways emits 160kg of CO2 per passenger, which is nearly 50 per cent more than Ryanair, or Tui - which all stand at 109kg.

The magazine insisted it was standing by the data, which was provided by carbon analytics firm Flyzen.

Which? Travel noted that flag carriers such as British Airways tend to use older fleets of wide-bodied aircraft, which use more fuel.

They also carry more passengers in premium cabins, which results in lower capacities and an increased carbon footprint per person.

The worst case identified by Which? Travel was indirect flights from Heathrow to Singapore, with Cathay Pacific (1,693kg) producing three-quarters more CO2 emissions per passenger than KLM (958kg).

The difference is largely due to Cathay Pacific passengers changing planes in Hong Kong, whereas KLM customers spend two fewer hours in the air by connecting in Amsterdam.

Which? Travel editor Rory Boland said: "These figures show that swapping to a greener airline will allow the many of us concerned about climate change to immediately and significantly reduce our individual carbon footprint.

"If millions of us were to switch to a less polluting airline on our next holiday, it would bring pressure to bear on the worst polluting airlines and force them to prioritise their impact on the environment by introducing more efficient aircraft and cleaner fuels."

A British Airways spokeswoman said: "The conversation about climate change is too important to be undermined by the for-profit organisation Which? using shoddy research based on data which is several years out of date.

"Which? only looked at 2% of our flights and their paid-for calculations, hidden behind a pay wall, are completely at odds with the figures calculated by the range of airlines they claim to have investigated.

"We are committed to net zero by 2050 and we are open to discussion on our approach to reducing our carbon emissions with anyone who is interested in accurate and robust data."