Research Paper: Major Airlines Going Green

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¶ … Airlines Going Green

Major Airlines are Going Green

The airline industry has been through many ups and downs. One of the latest concerns for airlines is the protection of the environment (Burleson & Maurice, 2006; Waitz, et al., 2004). Because so many of their patrons are interested in environmental protection today, and because more and more people are responding to companies that are interested in caring for the environment in various ways, airlines are finding more reasons to go green. Doing so is not without difficulty and compromise, of course, but that does not mean there are more cons than pros for a majority of airlines. Each airline must make its own individual decision as to whether going green would be cost effective or whether it would be better to continue operations as they currently are and not make changes that would be better for the environment but that might cut into the bottom line. While caring for the environment is clearly important, airlines are in business to make a profit and that is the main concern on which they are focused (Burleson & Maurice, 2006; Waitz, et al., 2004).

Addressed here will be the airlines that are environmentally friendly and the airlines that are opposed to going green, along with other issues such as advantages, disadvantages, costs, and motivations. Going green is not something that an airline can just do because it wants to please customers or even because it is concerned about the environment. Going green for any airline has to be done because the airline wants to make changes and can show that those changes will be cost effective and that they will make sense. Analyzing the costs required to "go green" with options like biofuel can be a complex process that should not be entered into lightly or too hastily for any airline. Even though there are clear advantages to going green in many cases, there are certainly pitfalls that have to be faced by airlines - and that need to be navigated carefully.

The Best and Worst Green Airlines

Airlines such as Continental and Southwest are friendly to the environment and have spent time concentrating on going green (Burleson & Maurice, 2006; Waitz, et al., 2004). JetBlue and Frontier are also very focused on green travel. Most of the green airlines are in the United States, but there are other countries where airlines see that going green may be beneficial to them. One of the non-U.S. airlines that is focused on going green is SriLankan Air. Singapore Airlines, RyanAir, and Delta were also found to be among the best for environmentally friendly airlines (Burleson & Maurice, 2006; Waitz, et al., 2004). These companies have been interested in the carbon footprint that they leave behind, as well as the fuel that they use, the recycling with which they can get involved, and other factors. Because of their dedication to going green, they have been recognized by many environmental groups. The goal for these airlines was not recognition, however, but the opportunity to work with their customers to show a commitment to the planet (Burleson & Maurice, 2006; Waitz, et al., 2004).

As for airlines that are the least environmentally friendly, SAS Scandinavian and American Eagle are both at the bottom of the list (Burleson & Maurice, 2006; Waitz, et al., 2004). These are airlines that have done nothing at all in order to make themselves more environmentally conscious or environmentally friendly, and they are inefficient when it comes to their flights. They do not fill their planes as often as they should, and they have more flights scheduled than they need from many of the airports they service (Burleson & Maurice, 2006; Waitz, et al., 2004). Because of that, they are using more fuel and polluting the environment more heavily than their green counterparts (Burleson & Maurice, 2006; Waitz, et al., 2004). One of the ways in which airlines can go green is to be more efficient with their flights, but this is something that American Eagle and SAS Scandinavian have not considered or have considered and then disregarded as being the proper direction for their business model. Their schedules have not changed, and that indicates that they are not interested in lessening their carbon footprint.

The Costs of Going Green

Going green is not free (Doganis, 2002). There are always costs and trade-offs to be considered, and that is true of any company that is considering being environmentally friendly. The costs associated with going green are certainly not limited to the airline industry, either. Every industry has costs that have to be incurred when companies in that industry focus on green or environmental issues. For the airline industry, one of the main costs of going green is fuel (Doganis, 2002). Biofuels and other alternatives are very expensive for planes, and many planes are not equipped to use them properly. Because of that, major changes would have to be made to the planes - and that, of course, costs a great deal of money when there are many planes in the fleet. In addition, the only other way airlines could get planes that were properly equipped would be to purchase new planes (Doganis, 2002). That would not be a good, cost-saving measure, either, and would likely be avoided by most airlines.

Airlines that want to go green do not need to focus only on the emissions created by the planes. It is also important for them to look at issues such as recycling and what kinds of items they are using for their passengers (Doganis, 2001). By switching over to recycled materials, and by recycling once the items have been used, an airline can cut costs over time. However, that same airline may find that it has to spend more money in the beginning in order to make sure that it is getting the kinds of products that it really wants and needs (Doganis, 2001). Buying recycled or green items is generally more expensive, because these items still cost slightly more to produce. Eventually, those costs may come down, and that could entice more airlines to go green or take more measures to protect the environment. Airlines that are worried about the financial cost of going green must consider that against the costs of not going green when it comes to what customers want and how satisfied they will be with an airline that is unconcerned about the environment (Doganis, 2001).

Advantages and Disadvantages of Going Green

Going green has its advantages, but there is also a downside to being environmentally friendly. The largest advantage, of course, is the actually help that is given to the planet when individuals and companies choose to go green (Smith, 2002). Because the pollution from so many planes flying every day is significant, the more airlines that go green the more benefit the planet gets. But what is the benefit for the airline? Good customer relations is one of the largest benefits that any airline can get, and when the airline focuses on going green - which matters to a large number of its customers - then the airline reaps the benefits of customers who want to fly on that airline because they like the policies of the company (Smith, 2002). Of course, some people do not care about going green, and the airline will not get any advantage with those customers - but more people are going green every day, and there is a serious market for products and services that are environmentally friendly.

One of the most significant disadvantages of going green for any airline is the cost that is undertaken (Smith, 2002). That was addressed in the previous section. There are more disadvantages than cost, however, because an airline must put a great deal of time and effort into environmental practices. The changes that an airline undergoes because of its desire to go green are far-reaching, and they can upset some of the employees who now feel that they must do more work or that they must act or react in a different way because they work for a "green" company (Smith, 2002). When employees are unhappy, that can quickly extend to the customers because those customers see the dissatisfaction the employees display about their company (Smith, 2002). There are not always easy ways for a company to make changes, and some of the "green" products and ideas will not work well for an airline that has strict rules to follow and quotas to meet. Many airlines are restricted in what they can do by the FAA and other regulatory agencies (Smith, 2002).

How Companies Decide to go Green

There are many ways in which companies decide to go green (Friends, 2007; National, 2007; Kim, et al., 2007). Various issues can make them consider going green, and there are often multiple concerns which they must address when they are thinking about going green and attempting to determine if they should take that step or if… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Major Airlines Going Green.  (2011, November 29).  Retrieved May 25, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/major-airlines-going-green/2741853

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