UK-based regional airline Flybe is launching a new "ecolabel" scheme to keep passengers informed about the environmental impact of individual flights.
Chief executive and chairman Jim French says the scheme is in response to the Stern report's call for labelling similar to that already used on many consumer goods "to help consumers and businesses make sound decisions" when it comes to air travel.
The Bombardier Q400 is designed to meet the requirements of regional airlines
The airline has got the backing of consultancy firm Deloitte as well as the Royal Aeronautical Society. Under the scheme, each of the airline's aircraft will carry a label rating it on three criteria.
Its impact on the local environment will be assessed on the basis of noise and CO2 and NOx emissions on landing and take-off, journey environment will grade fuel consumption and CO2 emissions on a kg per seat basis for typical European journeys.
For its passenger environment category Flybe will list number of seats and minimum leg-room available on each aircraft.
Flybe is making the labelling concept available to other airlines in the hope that they will take part in the scheme too. It has painted a Bombardier Q400 aircraft in a green livery to promote the scheme as part of its scheduled operations. The Q stands for "quiet", according to Bombardier.
Passengers will be able to see the information on the ecolabel when they book their flights and when they board the aircraft.
Measuring the local impact of flying is particularly important for Exeter-based Flybe, which operates from a number of airports with curfews in place and sensitivity over noise, French says.
Aircraft have ratings from A to F under the scheme. All Flybe's aircraft are rated A or B for the noise category, but ratings fall as low as F for some of the journey environment criteria on its BAe 146-200 regional jets.
A Boeing 737-800 is rated D for noise under Flybe's scheme, although it scores As and Bs on the journey environment category. An Airbus A319 gets a C rating for noise, but all B ratings for journey environment criteria.
Flybe has invested US$2 billion in upgrading its fleet with the addition of 74 new Bombardier Q400s and Embraer 195 "environmentally sensitive" aircraft over the last two years and says the programme will be complete by September 2009. The airline is adding the environmental labels to its remaining BAe 146-200s, BAe 146-300s, Embraer ERJ-145s and Bombardier Q300s until they are phased out. Although the aircraft score B ratings overall, they do not match up to the airline's newer acquisitions on some of the subcategories. All Flybe aircraft will carry the labels within two weeks, French says, adding "we're prepared to show the 146 data to show that we're willing to change".
In parallel with the ecolabelling scheme, Flybe is launching a carbon offset initiative, in conjunction with PURE, under which passengers can opt to pay to offset the carbon dioxide emissions of their flight at the time of booking. Most flights can be offset with a payment of less than £1 ($1.99), French says.