Friday, February 23, 2007

MILE HIGH CLUB
Flying is singled out as one of the fastest growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions. So it may alarm some to read that there's a new domestic airline rumoured to be setting up using Origin Pacific infrastructure in Nelson.

Others will insist (and I would agree) that increased competition for the near monopolistic Air New Zealand is a good thing. The venture is reportedly being driven by Nelson iwi Ngati Koata - who have recently launched a range of "traditional" cloaks mass produced "using imported... feathers", and a biofuel project.

The small iwi's commercial vigour is certainly encouraging. But this move appears risky given the failure of Origin, Qantas deeming that "services have not delivered the result we expected", and carbon pricing uncertainties for this carbon intensive industry.

Speaking of pie(s) in the sky, the obesity epidemic does indeed have an impact on airlines. Also reported in Independent mag was the fact that Air New Zealand found "average weight per passenger [increased] from 89kg to 93kg" in the five years to 2004 (article not online but part screenshot here).

93kg just happens to be roughly my weight if I had my full 20kg of allowable baggage. I'm your classic skinny 6ft white fulla but I seldom fly fully laden. Is the average "flier" a little more porky than the average Kiwi? Without a parachute it's a tad dangerous to get out and walk, but these are intriguing stats.

I'd suggest that as time has marched on the planes themselves have become slightly more fuel efficient - thereby emitting less co2/n2o. But as the average seat dweller has become a little more plump and passenger numbers have continued to increase, these efficiency gains have been well and truly negated.

On balance, more competition out of Nelson will drive more efficiencies. Lets hope that doesn't cause more industrial action - just less overall fuel consumption. It'd be great to hear from someone who knows the per passenger fuel/emissions efficiency of say a standard 737 compared to the Jetstream 41s that Origin used to run.

2 comments:

Craig Mackintosh said...

It'd be interesting to compare the average passenger weights of different nationalities! (I won't stoop so low as to point the finger at any particular country here though...). :)

mikeymike said...

I've had many a friend complain about having to pay for a few kilo's of excess baggage - following 20mins spent in a checkin queue behind a large unit hailing from the place you may well have in mind Craig...