Fuel Efficiency – A 30 Year Story

Our operating culture of fuel efficiency has been embedded since our first non-stop long haul flights from Hong Kong to London in 1980 and Hong Kong to Vancouver in 1983. Reducing weight onboard these two routes enabled us to offer a unique and competitive service to our customers. Various teams within Cathay Pacific worked on implementing innovative initiatives such as a fuel monitoring system; use of core washing; introduction of lighter weight onboard equipment (for example, food carts and cargo container boxes) and utilising flight techniques and flight planning systems that reduce fuel use – which have been part of the airline’s standard operating procedures for the past 30 years. We believe this has allowed us to operate our aircraft in a highly efficient manner, and to a certain extent, play a part in buffering against adverse conditions such as additional carbon charges and rising fuel prices.

Our fuel efficiency initiatives in these 30 years reflect the IATA four-pillar strategy:

In 2011, apart from the operational efficiencies embedded in our operations, our achievements on fuel efficiency included:

  • Fleet modernisation – We received three more A330-300s; six Boeing 777-300ERs and four Boeing 747-8Fs. We now have a total of 24 Boeing 777-300ERs, powered by two highly efficient GE90 engines, which form the backbone of our ultra long-haul fleet, where the greatest fuel efficiency improvements of 26-28% are realised.
  • Route improvements – Flexible entry/exit points implementation in China for European flights; and Reduced Vertical Separation Minimum (RVSM) implementation in Russia, Afghanistan, Mongolia and the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Specific details on our past improvements can be found in our previous reports.

In 2011, we recorded an increase of 4.5% in our CO2 emissions, bringing together a total of 15.9 million tonnes of CO2 emitted from fuel burn, which is in line with the operational growth of the airline.

As the volume of passengers and cargo we carried in 2011 (known as revenue tonne kilometre – RTK) grew less than the capacity we added – either by supplying more seats/space by flying more aircraft or more frequently (known as available tonne kilometre – ATK) – there was an improvement in CO2 efficiency per ATK this year, but not per RTK. In 2011, our total carbon efficiency relative to ATK has improved 11.6% since 1998 (compared to 8.7% last year). Since 1998, our carbon efficiency relative to RTK has improved 19.8%, which is less than the 23.4% improvement achieved in 2010.

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