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.
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.
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.
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.
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. At the end of 2014, WestJet had 14 battery-operated vehicles at our operation in Calgary and Whitehorse, with more planned for 2015. Some of these vehicles are positioned in airports to comply with their directive to only operate non-petroleum based fuel-powered tugs in the airport's newly constructed 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.
From November 2022 through to January 2023, WestJet will fuel all flights between San Francisco and Calgary using blended Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). SAF is the safest and most effective decarbonization option as we can use it with our existing fleet.
This first of its kind program in Canada is our initial big step in helping us to achieve our goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050. We’ve partnered with Neste, the world’s largest SAF producer, leading the way in sustainability as we work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions of air travel.