From January next year, all airlines wishing to land and take off in Europe will have to buy permits under the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) to help cover the carbon cost of all flights into or out of the EU. EU figures show airline carbon emissions have doubled since 1990, and would triple by 2020, unlike most other sectors, which have gone down. Initially, airlines will pay for 15% of the carbon they emit.
The ETS ruling has created an uproar among global carriers with China and the US threatening lawsuits. That’s one way to deal with new climate regulations.
Another response is ordering more fuel-efficient planes. Like the new Dreamliner. Boeing is the maker of the most energy-efficient airplane on the market, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. It uses 20% less fuel, through the use of advanced lightweight composite materials, systems, aerodynamics and more efficient engines.
Seattle-based Boeing expects the Gulf region will need 2,500 new aircraft in the next 20 years, a $450 billion market for the company. The increased demand for fuel-efficient airplanes is driven not just by the tough new ETS climate rules about landing in Europe, but also rising fuel costs.
As airplanes age out, they are expected to be replaced by more fuel-efficient models. Fuel cost is the second greatest cost associated with airplanes, after the initial cost of the airplane.
While the Boeing Dreamliner will be the most efficient airline in the world, it has barely begun making its first deliveries, having shipped only two, globally.
At the Dubai Air Show last week, Oman placed an order for six of them. This brings to 70 the number of 787 Dreamliners on order for the Middle East, per Boeing’s list. Kuwait has placed the oldest order in the region, still waiting for an order from 2006 for fourteen. Qatar is still waiting for its 2007 order of thirty, as is Royal Air Maroc for its order of five, and Royal Jordanian, for its order of seven. And last year, Saudi Arabia ordered eight.
But Gulf carriers are sanguine about the delays.
“Our decision to order the 787-8s is part of our long-term growth strategy to expand and modernise our fleet with newer, more fuel-efficient airplanes,” Oman Air chief executive Peter Hill told Aero News Network.
“We see direct benefits because of the Dreamliner’s fuel efficiency and operating economics as well as the enhanced travel experience that Oman Air will be able to offer its customers aboard this airplane,” he added.
Europe’s Airbus, the energy-efficiency runner-up to Boeing, expects a somewhat smaller Gulf region market, $347 billion, to supply 1,900 planes.
Emirates is the largest single customer of the Airbus A380 with 90. It also placed orders for 70 Airbus medium-size, long-range Airbus A350s, the most competitive model with Boeing’s energy-efficient Dreamliner – and like the Dreamliner, also facing long delays.
Image: Dubai Air Show