United Airlines marked the opening of its new route from San Francisco to Auckland last weekend with a ‘green’ flight conducted under the Asia and Pacific Initiative to Reduce Emissions (ASPIRE). During the inaugural flight, operated with a Boeing 787-800, the carrier used ASPIRE best practices that included user preferred route and dynamic airborne re-route procedures to follow a flexible fuel efficient flight path that could be changed at various stages to take advantage of favorable winds. Air traffic controllers on the ground at both ends of the journey managed the flight’s arrival and departure to ensure optimal efficiency. Data and metrics from the flight will now be assessed. Launched in 2008, ASPIRE is a partnership of air navigation service providers and airlines from the Pacific region to develop gate-to-gate flight procedures and standards that limit fuel burn and carbon emissions.
“United is one of the founding airline partners of ASPIRE and it is really pleasing the airline has chosen to make its inaugural service to Auckland an ASPIRE demonstration flight,” said Tim Boyle, ASPIRE Chair and Airways New Zealand’s Head of Auckland Operations.
“Due to technological advances and aircraft improvements, United’s CO2 emissions per passenger on flights to Auckland will be reduced by more than 20% versus when United previously flew to the country in 2003. During that same time period, air traffic organisations have modernised their capabilities to allow airlines to gain maximum advantage from their modern fleets.”
Noting the unprecedented levels of air traffic growth in the region, with movements expected to double by 2030, Boyle said it was a significant challenge for the aviation industry as a whole to manage the environmental outcomes and ensure the sustainability of air travel.
United's inaugural service to Auckland also marks the official start of the airline’s joint venture agreement with Star Alliance partner Air New Zealand. United’s EVP and Chief Revenue Officer, Jim Compton said: “We understand the importance of reducing our carbon footprint, even as we expand our global network. Working with ASPIRE is just one way we’re demonstrating our environmental leadership within the industry.”
Since its formation, ASPIRE has developed more than 20 daily city pair ‘green routes’ based on best practices.