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By proactively addressing environmental imperatives, we can chart a course for success in what is increasingly a resource-constrained world. Our efforts—in the air and on the ground—to operate more sustainably are also in line with the expectations of our employees, customers and shareholders.
Our investment in new aircraft is helping us to develop the youngest fleet of any U.S.-based international carrier by retiring older, inefficient models and replacing them with more fuel-efficient upgrades.
We’re burning less fuel, reducing emissions and cutting energy costs. The new models are also quieter—inside and out—improving passenger comfort and reducing the impact of noise on communities near airports where we operate.
In the coming years we expect our already-advanced fleet to continue to operate as the best in the world. Plans include:
With the delivery of the new Airbus A321T in 2014, American Airlines became the first and only U.S. carrier to offer customers three classes of service and fully lie-flat seats from coast to coast. Every seat offers a personal in-seat entertainment system, including 3-D moving maps and options of up to 200 movies, 180 TV programs, more than 350 audio selections and up to 20 games.
To enable customers to stay connected in flight, Gogo’s upgraded air-to-ground Wi-Fi technology is available throughout the aircraft, and each seat on the A321T features both a universal AC power port and a USB port.
In addition to replacing and expanding our fleet, we’re upgrading our planes to provide passengers with increased comfort and more inflight entertainment options. Below are some examples of our most recent fleet makeover efforts:
The aviation industry accounts for an estimated 2 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions. We are working to decrease these emissions, and we believe concerted action is required by all the world’s aviation players toward this end.
The airline industry has already made tremendous progress in reducing emissions. U.S.-based airlines have improved their fuel efficiency by 120 percent, reducing the emissions of 3.4 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide between 1978 and 2012.
But we know more must be done. In October 2013, the United Nation’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) signed a landmark agreement to cap emissions from international aviation at 2020 levels, with carbon-neutral growth thereafter. American supports this industry-wide goal and the collective process by which it will be implemented.
As we work toward ICAO’s vision of carbon-neutral growth post 2020, we depend on outside stakeholders to achieve this goal. Government investment in upgrades to existing and NextGen air traffic control are vital, as is ongoing research and innovation by suppliers of our aircraft, engines and related components. Most importantly, the global aviation industry as a whole needs continued support to develop low-carbon alternative fuels.
Our consumption of fuel—jet fuel in the air and diesel and gasoline on the ground—is not only our largest expense; it’s also the biggest source of GHG emissions from our operations. We are constantly on the lookout for innovative ways to reduce both costs and emissions. Our efforts range from the very visible, to the sometimes overlooked:
American’s Fuel Smart program serves as the cornerstone of our effort to reduce fuel consumption. The program is employee-driven and contributes a portion of the savings generated to Air Compassion for Veterans (ACV), a nonprofit organization that provides transportation for wounded active military, veterans and their families. To date, Fuel Smart donations to ACV have surpassed $3.5 million and helped more than 6,100 veterans and their families.
The new American is at the front line of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) NextGen program, an industry-wide effort to improve the efficiency of aircraft operation. For example, upgrades to systems that control navigation and flight are guiding planes to land via a smooth glide path rather than by descending in a series of steps, which requires more fuel because of the need to level off at each plateau. NextGen promises to improve safety, speed up trips, reduce delays, and reduce noise for people living and working near airports.
We hope that renewable sources will someday replace today’s jet fuel and further lower the carbon footprint of flight. American Airlines is a member of the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI), an industry consortium working to develop sustainable and viable bio-based alternatives to conventional jet fuel.
We’re taking many steps to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emission, including acquiring new fuel-efficient planes, making fuel-saving changes on existing aircraft and adjusting flight routings. But, to address our full impact on the environment, we must look beyond fuel. In our buildings, we also use energy, as well as water, lubricants and other materials with implications for the environment. We must also minimize and dispose of waste associated with our operations. We are scrutinizing all of these areas as we strive to lessen our total impact on the environment.
Nationwide, about 40 percent of total energy consumed is for lighting, heating, cooling and operating buildings. To reduce this environmental toll, American is working to convert existing facilities and build new ones to high standards of efficiency and healthfulness.
In 2014, we began construction on the Robert W. Baker Integrated Operations Center near our existing headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas. The facility, which will house the more than 1,400 employees who coordinate more than 1 million annual mainline flights, will have numerous environmentally friendly features. This facility follows suit of many other American buildings partaking in the green initiative:
The bulk of our waste-reduction efforts take place away from our aircraft, in our offices, maintenance and other operations centers. We’re working to cut down our impact in those areas, as well as in-flight.
Our commitment to reduce our environmental impact is anchored by our compliance with environmental regulations. Over 20 years ago, American established an environmental management system (EMS) to provide a systematic approach to complying with these regulations. To ensure the EMS is helping us meet these obligations, we:
The foundation to our EMS is employee training. We continuously review and update our environmental training, which is made up of annual online instruction for airport personnel and covers environmental awareness, including more detailed in-class training for environmental specialists. In 2014, almost 45,000 employees completed more than 52,000 hours of environmental training.
To ensure we meet the highest compliance standard, our audit program evaluates the performance of stations and facilities. Audit locations are selected based on several factors, including size, level of risk and the elapsed time since a locations’ last audit. In 2014, we completed 22 environmental audits of stations and maintenance facilities.