DUBAI, United Arab Emirates—Abu Dhabis flagship carrier, Etihad Airways, said Nov. 18 it is launching one of the worlds most fuel-efficient long-haul airplanes, part of a growing industry effort to reduce the environmental and financial costs of flying.
Etihads “Greenliner” is a Boeing 787 Dreamliner that will depart on its first route from Abu Dhabi to Brussels in January 2020. Etihads CEO Tony Douglas described the aircraft as a flying laboratory for testing that could benefit the entire industry.
With fuel costs eating up around a quarter of airline spending, Douglas said the goal of the Greenliner is to be 20% more fuel-efficient than other aircraft in Etihads fleet.
“This is not just a box-ticking exercise,” he told reporters at the unveiling of the initiative at the Dubai Airshow alongside executives from Boeing.
The companies did not detail the technologies that would reduce fuel consumption, but in the past, such efforts have focused on using new types of fuel, such as biofuel, or testing lighter materials.
This year, Etihad flew the worlds first passenger flight using sustainable biofuel made from a plant that grows in saltwater. It also became the first in the Middle East to operate a flight without any single-use plastics onboard to raise awareness of the effects of plastic pollution.
Douglas said the aircraft “not only makes sense economically from a profit and loss account point of view but because it also directly impacts the CO2 because of the fuel burn.”
Etihad has reported losses of $4.75 billion since 2016 as its strategy of aggressively buying stakes in airlines from Europe to Australia exposed the company to major risks.
Boeing rival Airbus said nov. 18 it will start tests to see how two jets could fly together, one after the other, to reduce the amount of air drag. It estimates it could reduce 5-10% of fuel consumption per trip for the plane flying in its partners wake.
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