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On board a Virgin Atlantic flight (photo: Virgin Atlantic)

What can airlines do to save a little weight?

Airlines are constantly trying to find new ways to help their planes lose a few kilos, from lightweight trolleys to removing olives.

Fuel costs and fuel burn is something that causes every airline chief executive to lose sleep, especially in an era where the price of oil is far higher than it was three years ago.

Fuel accounts for 21 cents in every dollar spent by airlines, so carriers are constantly thinking up new ways to lighten the load, the Telegraph newspaper reports.

By removing one olive from each of its inflight salads in 1987, American Airlines reportedly cut costs by $40,000 (€35,000) a year. It said at the time that it not only saved on the cost of olives but on the weight of each plane.

Thinner glass
Virgin Atlantic made its glassware thinner, removed heavy plates from its Upper Class, changed its chocolate to lighter versions, redesigned its dining carts so fewer were needed and cut its range of beverages for night-time flights.

The airline estimates that every 0.45kg lost in weight from each plane in its fleet saves 53,000 litres of fuel a year.

Qantas introduced new crockery glassware, cutlery and linen last year as part of its plans to fly non-stop between Perth and London, cutting weight by 11%. Lightweight trolleys weighing 18kg help it save even more fuel.

Carriers like British Airways and United now print their inflight magazine on lighter paper. Thomas Cook Airlines no longer prints receipts for inflight purchases.

Ryanair, meanwhile, cut the size of its magazine to A5 and reduced the amount of ice carried on board. A spokesperson said in 2012: “We also considered removing armrests, but decided against it.”