CO2 Emissions Would Fall 34% If Every Fleet Was As Young As Wizz Air’s

Wizz Air is one of the most aggressive airlines in Europe. It is growing fast with a take…

CO2 Emissions Would Fall 34% If Every Fleet Was As Young As Wizz Air’s

Wizz Air is one of the most aggressive airlines in Europe. It is growing fast with a take no prisoners approach. While a fierce competitor in European airspace, the airline is also trying to be a good environmental corporate citizen. Now, the Budapest-based airline says CO2 emissions across the European airline industry would fall by 34% if all European airlines matched the age of the Wizz Air fleet.

Wizz Air’s CCO says other airlines could reduce CO2 emissions by following Wizz’s lead. Photo: Getty Images.

Wizz eyes a net-zero carbon future

According to the Air Transport Action Group, in the last year of normal flying, 2019, airlines worldwide produced 915 million tonnes of CO2, or around 2% of all human-induced CO2 emissions.

Despite the low baseline figure, the problem for the airline industry is that its contribution to CO2 emissions was growing. The high-profile nature of aviation and its various operators also adds to the pressure on the industry to reduce its CO2 emissions.

Like most contemporary airlines, Wizz Air is pursuing a net-zero carbon emissions goal. Wizz wants to get there by 2050. But getting there involves a wide-ranging series of steps. Wizz is chasing an ambitious 20% year-on-year increase in fuel efficiency improvements and a 25% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 to get it on its way.

Wizz Air is chasing net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Photo: Getty Images

CCO says European airlines could cut CO2 emissions by 34% by following Wizz’s lead

Key to achieving this is introducing new fuel-efficient planes. Already it appears to be paying dividends. In an exclusive webinar interview with Simple Flying, George Michalopoulos, Chief Commercial Officer at Wizz Air makes some bold calls. He says the airline is the greenest in Europe. The CCO suggests if other European airlines operated an identical fleet to Wizz (in terms of age and composition), Europe’s airlines would substantially reduce their CO2 emissions.

Wizz Air operates a fleet of 124 Airbus A320 and A321 aircraft. According to the database at, Wizz has 62 Airbus A320-200s, six A320-200neos, 31 Airbus A321-200s, and 13 Airbus A321neos. Wizz Air has a further 240 single-aisle Airbus aircraft on order. The majority of that order comprises A321neos.

“If you take the European airlines, and if they were to operate on with this fleet, average age 5.04 years, they would reduce CO2 emissions by 34%, which is roughly 20 million tonnes in a year,” Michalopoulos says.

“It’s really all about technology. The latest technology reduces emissions significantly,” the CCO adds. “We’ve continued to renew the fleet, we’ve continued to hand back older technology aircraft, whereas a number of other airlines in Europe have stopped taking orders and continue to age their fleet.”

Wizz’s CCO says young technologically advanced aircraft are key to reducing CO2 emissions. Photo: Getty Images

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Packing more passengers into planes impacts Wizz’s environmental statistics

George Michalopoulos justifies his greenest airline in Europe claim by measuring CO2 emissions in grams against revenue passenger kilometers.

“That’s how we justify it,” the Wizz Air CCO told Simple Flying’s Joanna Bailey.

Wizz’s latest monthly CO2 emissions report reveals CO2 emissions in June 2021 were 76.5 grams per revenue passenger kilometer. This is down 19% from the June 2020 figure of 94.1 grams per revenue passenger kilometer.

While Wizz’s fleet is young, most airlines recognize the economic and environmental benefits of fleet renewal and are pursuing similar strategies. Packing more passengers into planes is a better short-term explanation of Wizz’s current eco-credentials. The more passengers per plane versus a competitor flying a similar sized and similar age aircraft, the better the per passenger CO2 emissions at Wizz.

“The key is is the number of seats onboard. I mean, we get 239 seats on an A321neo versus Ryanair, which gets down to 197 seats,” Michalopoulos admits. Those squeezy cabins are one of the secrets to Wizz’s environmental success. It is also a reason why the airline can trot out its impressive eco-stats.

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Hello Air New Zealand – Australia’s New No 1 International Airline

Air New Zealand is emerging as the dominant player in Australia’s international aviation market. In May 2021, the…

Hello Air New Zealand – Australia’s New No 1 International Airline

Air New Zealand is emerging as the dominant player in Australia’s international aviation market. In May 2021, the Auckland-based airline had a 49% share of that market, more than double its nearest rival, Qantas. Air New Zealand benefited from the opening of a two-way travel corridor between New Zealand and Australia in April and its longstanding trans-Tasman network depth

Air New Zealand owned Australia’s international aviation market in May. Photo: Getty Images

Australia’s Bureau of Infrastructure and Transport Research Economics (BITRE) released May 2021 international passenger and airline statistics on Wednesday. 214,246 passengers moved through Australia’s international airports in May 2021. 104,980 (or 49%) of those 214,246 passengers flew on Air New Zealand flights.

By way of comparison, 3,208,000 passengers moved through the same Australian airports in May 2019. In May 2020, just 52 989 passengers flew in and out of Australia. The recent uptick in passenger traffic is primarily due to a travel corridor between Australia and New Zealand opening in mid-April.

The two key beneficiaries of that travel corridor were Air New Zealand and Qantas. The Australian airline had a 22.6% share of the international aviation market in May. In third place was Jetstar, Qantas’ low-cost subsidiary airline. Jetstar had a 6.7% market share in May.

An Air New Zealand Boeing 787 jet lands in Sydney. Photo: Getty Images

Air New Zealand reaps the benefits of commitment and network depth

Air New Zealand’s domination of the trans-Tasman market and its current status as Australia’s number one international airline is largely due to its extensive trans-Tasman network and ongoing commitment to it.

In contrast, Qantas and Jetstar axed virtually all of its trans-Tasman (and wider international) flying in March 2020. Qantas began restoring some trans-Tasman flights late in 2020 in response to a one-way travel corridor between New Zealand and Australia. Qantas ramped up its flights and Jetstar joined the fray in April when the two-way travel corridor commenced.

Like the All Blacks running amuck in a Bledisloe Cup, Air New Zealand’s run of good fortune in Australia is likely to continue through to the still-to-be released June Australian international traffic figures. But by mid-June, the New Zealand – Australia travel corridor began to wobble. By mid-July, it is largely in tatters.

While Kiwis can still fly into Australia and skip the 14-day quarantine, New Zealand has paused quarantine-free flights from three Australian states, including New South Wales and Victoria, home to Australia’s two biggest cities.

Qantas was the runner-up airline to Air New Zealand in May. Photo: Getty Images

Can Air New Zealand hang on to the crown?

Air New Zealand, Qantas, and Jetstar have wound back trans-Tasman flights as a result. Even so, Air New Zealand’s network depth in Australia continues to give it an edge. For example, Air New Zealand flies between its Auckland (AKL) home port and the Australian state capitals of Adelaide (ADL), Hobart (BHA), and Perth (PER). New Zealand is currently allowing in travelers from these three cities without quarantining. None of these cities are huge Air New Zealand markets but they are handy markets and neither Qantas or Jetstar fly these routes. The only quarantine-free market all three airlines are currently flying on is between Queensland and New Zealand.

Meanwhile, Singapore Airlines (5.7%) and Qatar Airways (3.9%) round out the five airlines dominating Australia’s international aviation market in May. Twelve months ago, Qatar Airways was the King of Australia’s international skies. But as Qatar Airways can now attest, the crown comes and the crown goes. The question is, how long can Air New Zealand hang onto the prize?

Simple Flying has approached Air New Zealand for their response to the latest BITRE statistics.

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