The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has announced that it would achieve carbon neutral growth from 2020. Investment in biotechnology, bio fuels, more efficient practices and also trading in carbon are just some of the measures which they intend to adopt. The have further announced that they believe carbon trading will cost the industry about $ 7 billion from 2020 (based on a carbon price of $ 65 a metric ton in 2020).
Some US airlines have reduced their flights in response to falling demand for travel and freight, and carriers in Asia and Europe are likely to make similar scheduling cuts to reduce their operating costs.
In the United States, Northwest Airlines has excluded spoons from its cutlery pack if the in-flight meal does not require one. "When you are talking about a jumbo jet with 400 people on board, being served two to three meals, this can save a few kilos, "they said. American Airlines said fuel-saving measures have helped it save more than 110 million gallons of fuel annually and reduced its carbon emissions by 2.3 billion pounds in 2008. It aims to save 120 million gallons of fuel and reduce carbon emissions by 2.5 billion pounds in 2009 .
JAL of Japan, took everything it loaded from a 747 and and laid it out on the floor of a school gym to see what it really needed. As a direct result it reduced the size of all the cutlery on board to reduce weight.
Many other carriers have put their planes on slimming plans to shift the excess flab. Some have dropped their in flight magazines whilst others are digitizing their duty free catalogs onto the seat-back televisions. Catering trolleys are becoming lighter and less water is being loaded onto these "slimline" planes
Aircraft seats are losing weight too with the next generation of aircraft seats being made of composite rather than the currently used aluminum. This will result in these seats being up to 30 per cent lighter than the current generation. The in-flight televisions are now being made from reinforced carbon fiber resulting in weight savings of up to 50%.
Whilst these weight saving measures are helping, the industry is also looking to step up the use of alternative carbon-free bio-fuels, which should account for up to six per cent of the industry total by 2020.
A number of airlines, including Virgin Atlantic, Continental and Air New Zealand, have already carried out extensive trials of and test flights using alternative fuels.
The airports and air traffic control are also playing their part, and up to 100 European airports are reported to be preparing to change their standards on planes landing procedures. The plan is to apply a "continuous descent approach", or CDA, that makes for a smoother more efficient descent and cuts carbon emissions per flight by 160 kg to 470 kg.
IATA also restated the industry's previous environmental goals to cut absolute emissions by 50 percent by 2050, and improve average fuel efficiency 1.5 percent annually between now and 2020. Airlines will reduce their carbon emissions by nearly 8 percent this year as they slash the number of flights they operate in line with a drop in cargo and passenger demand, and about 6 percent of the forecast carbon cut will come as a result of carriers flying fewer planes in 2009, and a further 1.8 percent increase steps to improve energy efficiency, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said.
These changes are just the "tip of the iceberg" when it comes to reducing airlines carbon emissions but they are a start.