New air traffic efficiency targets proposed by the UK CAA could save 600,000t of carbon dioxide over the next three years.
The CAA plans to incentivise UK air navigation service provider NATS to meet the targets by offering bonus or penalty payments, "depending on NATS' performance", said the regulator.
The plan uses a metric based on analysis of radar tracks since 2006 to establish an average efficiency level in terms of how direct a route is and how smooth the climb and descent are.
"It will establish Europe's most comprehensive and developed incentive regime to encourage the most environmentally efficient use of airspace," said the CAA.
If adopted, the proposal could save airlines up to £120 million ($192 million) in fuel costs over the next three years. The aim is for the new targets to take effect on 1 January 2012.
The proposal has been put forward for consultation, a process that will run until 8 December.
"The aviation sector can only continue to grow, with all the social and economic benefits that brings, if it is environmentally sustainable," said CAA director of regulatory policy Iain Osborne.
"That's why the collaboration between NATS and their airline customers working with the CAA to put in place this efficiency target is so welcome - it shows the potential for real environmental benefits when we work together."
The CAA and NATS plan to publish monthly performance figures to demonstrate how the targets are being met.