UK airspace authority National Air Traffic Services (NATS) is to propose to its board of directors target levels for 2020 emissions and fuel burn reductions for aircraft flying under its control.
Paul Barron, NATS chief executive, will not reveal details of the proposal in advance of a forthcoming meeting, but says no air navigation services provider (ANSP) has yet proposed such an effort.
Speaking at the 52nd annual Air Traffic Control Association conference and exhibition in Washington DC he said: "Environmental impacts are certainly a huge focus of attention with the planned expansion of Heathrow and Stansted. It's a massive focus from the public."
Significant cuts for an ANSP appear to be feasible. At the ATCA conference, Christian Dumas, representing Airbus and the European Air Traffic Alliance, said a feasibility study recently completed under the Single European Sky programme has shown that modernised air traffic management efforts could cut carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 9%, primarily through optimised horizontal and vertical routeing.
Barron said the carbon reduction programme will also target the footprint of NATS' 5,500 employees and its facilities.
Separately, UK transport minister Ruth Kelly says that her department is looking at whether new airport slots could be allocated to reflect the environmental performance of aircraft.
Launching a consultation document, Towards a Sustainable Transport System, that reiterates the importance the UK attaches to using emission trading as a tool for tackling aviation pollution, she says: "We will also consider whether emissions might be reduced if the allocation of newly created slots for take-off and landing could be designed to reflect the environmental performance of aircraft.
"This approach to slots has not been tried before and we will work with airports, airlines and regulators to examine its practicality and effectiveness, including compatibility with the European Union regulations that determine slot allocation."
Towards a Sustainable Transport System outlines the DfT's response to last year's major Stern and Eddington reports, details its policy up to 2014 and outlines its longer-term transport strategy. It will follow this with publication of a Green Paper and formal consultation in spring 2008.