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Ryanair says it is world’s greenest airline

The low-cost carrier’s chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs makes an environmental pitch.

Airline cabin initiatives such as reducing waste or using compostable paper cups do not mean much to low-cost carrier Ryanair, which claims it is the world’s greenest airline.

At a recent conference, its chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs said that if passengers want to cut their individual carbon emissions they just need to fly on his airline.

Speaking at Skift Forum Europe, a travel industry event held in Berlin last week, he told the gathering that Ryanair is the “greenest airline in the world on a [carbon dioxide] emissions per passenger, per kilometre basis,” the news website Quartz reports.

He clarified that the emissions of each passenger are driven by four main factors, the first being an airline’s load factor, or how many seats are occupied versus those left unfilled.

The second is the age of the fleet, as newer planes are more fuel efficient, while the third is whether or not the airline operates a hub-and-spoke or point-to-point route model, the latter being the one favoured by budget carriers.

The fourth factor, Jacobs elaborated, is the way the pilot flies the plane, for example by using the “green approach” landing technique, which has also been pioneered by SAS.

Is he right?
Ryanair flights have an average load factor of 96%, according to Jacobs. But it is hard to check Jacobs’ overall claim that it is greenest without fully assessing all the factors he mentions – and others too, such as how much food is consumed on board and how it is prepared, or how the airline powers its data warehouse, Quartz speculates. A survey conducted in 2016 put Nordic airlines at the top.

But, as Jacobs phrased it at the forum: “We’ve got the youngest fleet in the world for two reasons: we’re the fastest growing airline and we’re low-cost mean bastards, so we want to have young aircraft because they’re cheaper to maintain and the engines use less fuel.”

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