Emissions and Fuel Efficiency

In 2014, Cathay Pacific and Dragonair were collectively responsible for emitting 16.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) from fuel burn, an increase of 1.1 million tonnes from 2013. Although our total emissions grew due to the growth of the airlines, our fuel efficiency improved by 2.2% and 4.5% in relation to capacity (available tonne kilometre, ATK) and traffic carried (revenue tonne kilometre RTK) respectively over 2013. This brought our total fuel efficiency improvement since 1998 to 15.3% and 22.8% per ATK and RTK respectively.



million tonnes

CO2 emissions from fuel burn

scope 1 emissions
16,654,795 tonnes (99.45%)
Aviation Fuel, Fuel Combustion and Towngas
scope 2 emissions
91,307 tonnes (0.55%)
Electricity and Towngas


Fuel efficiency achievements in 2014 included:

  • Fleet modernisation by taking delivery of nine Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, five Airbus A330-300 aircraft and (for Dragonair) two Airbus A321-200 aircraft and retiring six Boeing 747-400s.

  • As part of the Cathay Pacific eEnabled Aircraft Programme, 11 Boeing 777-300ER aircraft were fitted with Electronic Flight Bags (which replaced the flight bags loaded with charts, manuals and documents) and Electronic Techlog (the technical log that is completed by the Engineering team and crew on the flight deck) which are used on all services.

    Along with the longer term benefits such as operational efficiency, an eEnabled aircraft will replace existing paper manuals and charts, which can weigh up to 51 kg, hence reducing the environmental impact of paper charts and manual production, distribution and disposal. New antennas on the aircraft also significantly reduce aircraft drag thereby reducing the fuel burn.

  • The Flight Efficiency Working Group was established to facilitate a coordinated approach to managing our fuel use better and improving fuel efficiency. The cross-departmental team focussed on projects in the following areas:

    • Aircraft weight
    • Aircraft performance
    • Aircraft operation
    • Aircraft efficiency

    One project in 2014 included a study with the Hong Kong International Airport in preparation for the Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) ban at the airport due to come into force in December. The initiative involved both Cathay Pacific and Dragonair maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) agents and the Airport Authority Hong Kong (AAHK) and evaluated various procedures to minimise APU usage. Cathay Pacific also implemented reduced engine taxiing (RET) in 2014 as a result of the work by the Working Group. Dragonair introduced RET to its operations in 2013.

Global CO2 Emissions – Cathay Pacific Group Fleet


Sustainable Biofuels

In August 2014, Cathay Pacific announced an investment in a U.S.-based sustainable biofuel developer, Fulcrum BioEnergy Inc. This is part of our biofuel strategy, and will help us achieve a target of carbon-neutral growth from 2020. Fulcrum is a world pioneer in the development and commercialisation of converting municipal solid waste into sustainable aviation fuel.

We have negotiated a long-term supply agreement with Fulcrum for an initial 375 million US gallons of sustainable aviation fuel over 10 years and which would meet all the airline’s technical requirements, specifications and sustainability criteria.

According to Fulcrum, jet fuel produced by their waste-to-fuels process will reduce lifecycle carbon emissions when used in aircraft or road transport by more than 80% when compared to traditional fuels derived from crude oil and other fossil sources. This process also reduces the amount of municipal solid waste destined for landfill and resulting methane gas emissions.

ICAO Global Market-Based Measure

In 2014, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) began the development of a global market-based measure (MBM) to address the growth of international aviation emissions.

The Global Market-based Measure Technical Task Force (GMTF), comprising representatives and experts from ICAO member states, industry and NGOs, was convened. Cathay Pacific is a member of the GMTF and has been actively engaged in the dialogue on the implementation of a global MBM for aviation emissions under ICAO, including membership of IATA’s advisory group on this issue.

We are part of a small group of IATA carriers that are members of the expert groups looking at specific technical aspects of a global MBM through the ICAO Advisory Committee on Environmental Protection (CAEP), together with NGOs, states and academia. Additional meetings are planned leading up to the next ICAO Assembly in 2016.

Global Efforts by the Aviation Industry in Reducing Emissions

CX as a founding member of the Aviation Global Deal Group
The aviation industry committed to new and ambitious targets for emissions reductions through IATA
Monitoring of CO2 data began in compliance with the EU ETs
CX appointed to IATA Climate Change Task Force
Climate Change Task Force completed extensive work around the implementation of CNG 2020
The 38th ICAO meeting agreed to proceed with the development of a global market-based measure for international aviation emission

European Union Emissions Trading Scheme

The European Union continued to ‘stop the clock’ on the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). The revised regulation extended the suspension of the ETS with respect to flights to and from non-European Economic Area (EEA) countries until 2016, as well as requiring Member States to report on how they used revenue from ETS allowance auctions.

Although Cathay Pacific welcomed the clarity this provided airlines for the next three years, the continual amendments to the regulation added to legislative uncertainty. Nonetheless, we remained in full compliance with the EU ETS regulation, but our commitment is towards seeking a global MBM solution that is fair, equitable and avoids market distortion as opposed to regional schemes such as the EU ETS.

FLY greener Carbon Offset

Passengers continued to offset the emissions from their flights via FLY greener, Cathay Pacific’s carbon offset programme, which has been in place since 2007 when we became the first Asian airline to offer a passenger carbon offset scheme. This amounted to 3,300 tCO2 in 2014. Cathay Pacific and Dragonair also offset the CO2 impacts of staff travelling on business, totaling 10,000 tCO2 at an approximate cost of HK$250,000.

The programme portfolio currently includes the following renewable energy projects:

Lankou 26 MW Hydropower Project

Dongguan, Guangdong

Feeds into the China Southern Power Grid

Chaonan Shalong Wind Power Project

Shantou, Guangdong

Feeds into the China Southern Power Grid

Wind turbines at the Chaonan Shalong Wind Project

Hong Kong International Airport Expansion

The Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) for the expansion of the Hong Kong International Airport was released for public consultation in June 2014 and Cathay Pacific provided a consultation response.

Subsequently, the EIA was endorsed with conditions by the Advisory Committee on the Environment (ACE), and the Director of Environmental Protection issued the Environmental Permit for the project in November 2014.

Ground Operations

In 2014, the total electricity consumption at Cathay City and Dragonair House was 33,059,287 kWh and 7,024,715 kWh respectively, representing a decrease of 1.8% and increase of 0.4% respectively. The main reasons for this saving were from the chilled water system optimisation and LED lighting replacements. The increment at Dragonair House was mainly due to increase in training and recruitment activities.

To support staff driving electric vehicles to work, we designated a parking space at Cathay City next to the electric vehicle charging point for electric vehicles only, and two further outdoor EV chargers were also installed. At Dragonair House, two 13A socket outlets were installed for charging while an EV charger was being installed.

At the Cathay Pacific Cargo Terminal, energy saving initiatives introduced in 2014, including the installation of power efficient retrofit lamps, motion sensors and photo sensors across the terminal, saved more than 1 million kWh of electricity per year.

Following several feasibility studies at The Bridge, one of our airport lounge in Hong Kong, it was decided that water-to-water heat pump utilising waste heat recovery would be applied due to the significant hot water consumption pattern in the facility. Energy consumption of the heat pumps at The Bridge in 2014 was 11,286 kWh, compared with the energy consumption of conventional electrical boilers at another airport lounge, The Wing, which was 18,005 kWh during the same period. Based on these figures, energy saved from using heat pumps was 6,719 kWh, which was around 37.3%.

Our subsidiary businesses, including HAS, Vogue Laundry and Cathay Pacific Catering Services (CPCS), have been replacing existing equipment with newer, more efficient and lower emission models.

HAS, our ground handling company, commenced the second term of their three-year Ground Support Equipment (GSE) Replacement Programme, replacing over 50 aged and less fuel-efficient GSE and vehicles.

At Vogue Laundry, consumption of the dry cleaning solvent, perchloroethylene, has been reducing. In 2014, it was 11.0% less than in 2013. Vogue also switched from diesel boiler to a dual fuel boiler utilising Towngas and ultra-low sulphur diesel at a 90:10 ratio, which helped reduce CO2 emissions. In addition, two Euro V trucks were added to the fleet.

CPCS replaced the condensers on the roof and installed LED lights around the premises, resulting in an estimated total saving of 647 tonnes of carbon for the year. In the vehicle fleet, all pre-Euro type trucks were replaced and the number of Euro V trucks increased from 16 in 2013 to 20 in 2014. To achieve better roadside air quality at the airport in Hong Kong, CPCS purchased their first electric vehicle in November 2014. It will mainly be used for transporting staff at the ramp area and additional meal deliveries.

For the second year, Cathay Pacific continued to be included in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI), a world-leading and one of the most recognised sustainability indices. This year, we also supported the HKSAR Government’s Carbon Footprint Repository, which was newly developed for listed companies in Hong Kong, by disclosing our emissions data through this system. Cathay Pacific obtained an ‘AA’ rating under the Hang Seng Corporate Sustainability Index.