easyJet And Ryanair Launch Low-Carbon Aircraft Turnarounds

With over 100,000 flights taking off and landing every day across airports all over the world, emissions from ground operations quickly add up. This week, rival low-cost carriers easyJet and Ryanair announced projects to electrify ground support equipment and aid them in their net-zero quest.

easyjet ryanair aircraft
Rivals easyJet and Ryanair have both launched low-emissions turnaround projects. Photo: Getty Images

It is not only air travel itself that needs to be decarbonized. While emissions from aircraft are getting most of the press, and rightly so, there are other areas of the aviation infrastructure where airlines and their partners can shave off percentages on the road to net-zero.

When it comes to environmentally friendly practices, no one is happier than the planet for a little healthy rivalry and competition. Just yesterday, European budget carrier adversaries easyJet and Ryanair both announced two different low-emission turnaround projects driven by electric ground vehicles.

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easyJet using Bristol as testbed

easyJet is conducting a trial program together with Bristol Airport in the UK aimed at decarbonizing ground operations at the airport. The program commenced on September 1st and is set to run for six months, testing various solutions. The results thus far show that utilizing ground equipment running on electricity instead of Diesel reduced CO2 emission by 97%.

“At easyJet, we want to play our part to lead the decarbonisation of aviation, so we are delighted to see the results of this successful trial which has created a meaningful reduction in operational emissions by embracing the technology available to us today,” Johan Lundgren, easyJet CEO, said in a statement Thursday.

“The learnings from the Bristol trial will help us shape our sustainability strategy for future operational changes – all of which will help enable easyJet’s transition towards our goal of net zero emissions by 2050,” he continued.

easyJet Gatwick Getty
easyJet could roll out successful technology from the test program across its network. Photo: Getty Images

Ryanair’s zero-emission investment

Meanwhile, Ryanair has launched electric handling at 11 major airports across Europe, which the airline says will enable zero-emissions turnaround. The Irish low-cost carrier has partnered with Menzies Aviation to make its turnarounds fully electric at Amsterdam Schiphol, Gothenburg-Landvetter, and Oslo Airport, supported by the airports’ infrastructure upgrades.

For airports in Spain – Alicante, Barcelona, Madrid, Malaga, Mallorca, Seville, Santiago, Valencia – Ryanair has is working with Azul Handling. The airline has provided a  €7.3 million investment in electric ground support equipment to be able to offer zero-emission turnarounds at these major Spanish destinations. Ryanair’s director of sustainability, Thomas Fowler, shared the following statement,

“We are delighted to announce this industry-leading green initiative which represents Ryanair’s commitment to reducing its emissions. The launch of electric handling at 11 of our European airports is a major step in Ryanair’s pathway to net zero emissions by 2050.”

Ryanair 737-800
Ryanair has launched zero-emission turnaround projects at 11 European airports. Photo: Getty Images

Saving tonnes of CO2 daily

The ground handling process involves several steps and pieces of equipment, not only the pushback tractor. There is also the electrification of baggage tractors, baggage belt loaders, and electric ground power to take into consideration.

All in all, a standard, non-electrified turnaround can produce up to 52kg of CO2. When you consider that Amsterdam Schiphol alone saw 1,010 daily flights on average during the past week – which is only 69% of 2019 levels, emissions from ground operations quickly add up.