Frontier’s CEO Says His Airline Is The Greenest In America

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Proving you don’t have to be expensive to be green, ultra-low-cost carrier Frontier Airlines was again last week laying claim to being America’s greenest airline. It is a big call from the Denver-based airline. But it is a call Frontier Airlines and its CEO shows no sign of resiling from.

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Barry Biffle says Frontier Airlines is the greenest in America. Photo: Frontier Airlines

Frontier aircraft 43% more fuel-efficient than competitor’s aircraft

Speaking to CNBC last Thursday, fresh from listing on the Nasdaq, Frontier’s CEO Barry Biffle was keen to spruik the airline’s green credentials.

“We’re America’s greenest airline,” he said, adding this is not just based on CO2 emissions, but also on fuel consumption. Last year, Frontier’s CEO claimed his airline was 43% more fuel-efficient on average than other United States-based carriers. In last week’s CNBC interview, Barry Biffle outlined some figures to support that claim.

“We get 97 miles per gallon per passenger seat, and that compares to the industry (average) that’s in the 60s, so we’re considerably more efficient.

“We fly more and more efficiently. Everyway we operate the airline, we are very conscious about how little fuel we can get away with.” 

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Efficient utilization of a modern fleet is key to being America’s greenest airline

When asked what Frontier Airlines did differently to competitor airlines to achieve those kinds of fuel savings, Barry Biffle said it was a combination of factors.

“We use the latest technology and fly modern aircraft,” he said. “The Airbus neo is over half our fleet.”

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According to the airline database Planespotters.net, Frontier Airlines operates 106 aircraft. The Frontier fleet comprises three Airbus A319-100 planes, 16 Airbus A320-200s, 63 Airbus A320neos, and 21 Airbus A321-200s. The three A319s are all over 15 years old, but the remainder of the Frontier fleet is young. Across the 106 aircraft, the average age is 4.2 years.

According to Frontier’s CEO, being America’s greenest airline isn’t just a question of having new planes; it is also a question of efficient aircraft utilization.

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Barry Biffle says Frontier’s fleet of young, fuel-efficient aircraft gives it an advantage. Photo: Frontier Airlines

New seats weigh less, meaning less fuel burn

Late last year, Simple Flying reported on the new seats Frontier Airlines was putting into its new planes. They are Recaro SL3701 seats. These seats offered a 30% weight reduction compared to the older seats across Frontier’s fleet.

“The lighter weight Recaro seats will result in tens of thousands of gallons of fuel savings on a single aircraft while improving comfort. Less fuel means reduced operating costs which translates to savings we can pass on to consumers in the form of low fares,” said Mr Biffle at the time.

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New seats will weigh 30% less than current seats and result in considerable fuel savings. Photo: Frontier Airlines

The first of the new seats were only installed last week. Barry Biffle said that alone would save the airline US$30,000 in fuel costs.

“Each year, per airplane, we’re always looking for ways to make the aircraft lighter, and then how to operate it to burn less fuel, because there are many ways to get from A to B, but how much fuel you burn is what differentiates us.”

Also in the mix are some simple tactical decisions, like avoiding busy airports at busy times. This minimizes the risk of being stuck on the ground or in the air, burning fuel, waiting for a slot. Frontier’s ultra-low-cost model means galley weight and food and drink trolley weights are also minimized with the airline not carrying as much food and drinks onboard as competitors. A typical Frontier Airlines flight carries half a galley cart’s worth of food and drink.

Do you agree with Barry Biffle’s claim that Frontier Airlines is the greenest airline in America? Post a comment and let us know.

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