Caring for our environment
As we pursue our vision to be one of the top five airlines in the world, WestJet is committed to growing responsibly and ensuring that we are an environmentally sustainable airline. We recognize that as our operations grow, inevitably, so does our environmental footprint. For a complete overview of our commitment to people and the environment, please read our 2012 Global Reporting Initiative report.
Our commitment to mitigating greenhouse gas emissions
Burning aviation fuel to operate our aircraft and using non-renewable energy sources to heat and power our buildings and operational equipment releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The most direct and tangible control that we can implement to mitigate our carbon footprint is to operate our fleet and ground infrastructure as efficiently and safely as possible.
We currently have one of the youngest and most fuel-efficient fleets in North America. According to Boeing data, fuel efficiency and emissions from our Next-Generation 737 aircraft (600, 700 and 800 series) are approximately 15 to 30 per cent lower on a per seat basis than the fleet of 737-200 series aircraft we replaced between 2000 and 2003.
Our significant investments in fleet and technology have greatly improved our aircraft fuel efficiency and ability to operate our business more cost effectively. Between 2000 and 2012, we improved our fuel efficiency by 44.8 per cent per revenue tonne kilometre. The resulting fuel savings are equivalent to the amount of fuel that would have been used to fly a Boeing Next-Generation 737 from Calgary to Toronto and back approximately 44,135 times (based on our 2012 fuel usage).
We are a North American leader in the use of blended winglet technology. In 2003, we began installing winglets – wing-tip extensions that reduce fuel consumption by up to 2.7 per cent per flight on our 737 700 and 800-series aircraft. In 2004, we completed retrofitting all 700 series aircraft. Since then, all of our new 700 and 800 series aircraft arrive preconfigured with winglets.
Our tech-insertion engines
Since 2007, WestJet has only purchased aircraft equipped with CFM56-7B turbofan engines. The advanced configuration and improved technologies of the tech-insertion features in these engines provide up to one per cent better fuel consumption over the engine's lifecycle.
At a cost of approximately $100 million, the WestJet head office building in Calgary that opened in 2009 was constructed to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards and subsequently awarded a gold LEED certification in 2011. The innovations in our six-storey home base offer numerous efficiencies including maximized natural light, rainwater reclamation tanks, geothermal heating and efficient fixtures.
Our ground-support equipment
WestJet uses numerous types of ground equipment to support our operations and maintenance, ranging from aircraft tugs to catering trucks and vehicles used to transport our crew from the airport to our campus facility. Fuel consumption of this equipment is highly dependent on activity and weather conditions.
A new edition to WestJet’s ground fleet is the rechargeable lithium polymer battery-powered baggage tug. The tug, which began operating at the Calgary International Airport on October 2011, successfully performed throughout the winter in frigid temperatures without any significant incidents. Baggage was transported to and from the aircraft on approximately 11 flights per day on a single battery charge. Because the tug demonstrated excellent performance and reduced maintenance requirements, two electric tugs were subsequently positioned in Whitehorse in May 2012 to comply with the Whitehorse Airport directive to not operate petroleum based fuel-powered tugs in the airport’s ground-level baggage areas.
Carbonzero and WestJet have teamed up to provide guests the ability to help reduce the effects of climate change by purchasing carbon-offset credits when they travel. Guests wishing to purchase credits can calculate the impact of their flight before pledging. Visit Carbonzero for more information.