British Airways emits “more CO2 emissions per passenger than rival airlines,” a new investigation has said. Flying with BA can increase CO2 emissions by up to 45 per cent per passenger when compared to rival airlines on the same UK routes, the Which? Travel investigation claimed. Consequently, consumer site Which? is urging travellers to consider who they fly with if they want to make more significant reductions to their emissions.

Which? Travel chose six popular international routes from London which were well served by a variety of carriers to compare CO2 emissions.

On four of the routes, British Airways had the highest emissions of any carrier included in the study, said Which?.

The snapshot analysis found that one passenger flying transatlantic from Heathrow, UK to Miami, USA with BA would be responsible for 1.13 tonnes of carbon.

This is allegedly almost a third more than for the same journey with Virgin Atlantic (860.9 kilos).

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That’s a difference of 544 kilos of CO2 for a return journey – the equivalent of more than two months of electricity in the average UK home, claimed Which?.

The findings were not only a long-haul phenomenon, however, suggested the investigation.

Which? found a BA flight from London Stansted to Palma de Mallorca, Spain (160 kilos of CO2 per passenger) emitted nearly 50 per cent more than the same route with Ryanair, Jet2 or Tui (109.3 kilos).

On a round trip, that’s a saving of 100 kilos – the same as leaving a 60W light bulb switched on for 161 days straight.

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Which? added that last year, a BBC Panorama investigation into airline carbon emissions uncovered that BA emits 18,000 tonnes of additional CO2 each year due to a practice designed to save money.

So-called “fuel tankering”, involves filling aircraft with extra fuel to avoid having to refuel in destinations where prices are higher.

Rory Boland, Which? Travel Editor, 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.”

So why are British Airways flights deemed so bad for the environment?

According to Which? it’s because BA is a flag carrier. These flag carriers tend to have older fleets of wide-bodied aircraft, which use more fuel.

They also carry more business and first-class passengers – who, because they are afforded more space in the cabin (resulting in fewer passengers overall), have a larger carbon footprint.

For business passengers on long-haul flights, this impact is estimated to be around three times more than economy flyers. For first-class, it’s four times.

British Airways have slammed the findings, arguing that the study examined only a fraction of their global network and that figures for the investigation came from a 2013 database; BA has received more than 60 new aircraft since that year.

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British Airways told “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 two per cent 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.”



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