Before COVID-19 struck, U.S. airlines were transporting a record 2.5 million passengers and 58,000 tons of cargo per day – and at the same time they were contributing just 2 percent of our nation’s greenhouse gas emissions. Even as the world is beset by a pandemic, one that has decimated our industry, we reaffirm our commitment to protecting the planet as we reconnect it. U.S. airlines mark this commitment today by joining with the world in celebrating World Environment Day.
The health ramifications and economic consequences of the coronavirus are unprecedented. Closed borders, travel restrictions and stay-at-home orders have reduced the ability of U.S. airlines to connect people with loved ones, friends, colleagues or transport them to the places they want to visit. Passenger volumes plummeted in March and bottomed out in April, with fewer than 90,000 people flying in the U.S. on a single day, just 4 percent of the normal number of travelers. Because of the severe and sudden drop in demand, U.S. passenger airlines have grounded half of their planes. Nearly 3,000 are parked in the desert or elsewhere, sitting nose to nose or wing to wing with no date certain for when they will return to service. Some aircraft simply will be retired, never to fly again.
As we work to rebuild our previously robust and healthy industry and the global economy, we will continue our unwavering commitment to further reducing our carbon footprint. That’s a commitment we’ve demonstrated by setting a goal of cutting our net carbon emissions in half in 2050, relative to 2005 levels, and by improving our fuel efficiency by 40 percent since 2000.
We will meet our commitment to protecting the planet by bringing back into service fuel-efficient aircraft and engines, by continuing to develop and deploy sustainable aviation fuels and by implementing more efficient procedures, both in the air and on the ground. These and other important sustainability measures like carbon offsetting will make our operations greener and our skies cleaner. So, join the U.S. airlines in celebrating World Environment Day.
To learn more about the U.S. airline industry’s commitment to the environment, please visit AirlinesFlyGreen.com. Information on our members’ specific environmental initiatives is available at the links below: