Your ginger ale doesn't come in a glass anymore on most US Airways flights. On Delta you'll find yourself in a thinner, lighter seat. With jet-fuel prices so...
PHOENIX — Your ginger ale doesn’t come in a glass anymore on most US Airways flights. On Delta you’ll find yourself in a thinner, lighter seat.
With jet-fuel prices so high, airlines have no choice but to scour their planes for ways to lighten the load.
“The pressure is immense” to cut weight, said John Heimlich, chief economist for the Air Transport Association of America, an industry trade group. “Every penny more per gallon adds $195 million to the industry’s expenses per year.
“You simply cannot make all of that up with fare increases.”
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Carriers have pulled out unused ovens, magazine racks and trash compactors during the past few years. Some removed paper manuals in the cockpit and installed electronic maintenance logbooks.
American Airlines created a Fuel Smart Team in 2005 as fuel prices started to go up. Tom Opderbeck, American’s manager of strategic programs, said the team tried to cut weight in places that customers wouldn’t notice.
The team capped electrical outlets in the lavatories and cut the power converters from the wall. It took out phones in seat backs and removed the heavy telephone wiring that was folded inside.
“I always think we’ve come to the end of the list, but we keep on finding new items” to remove, Opderbeck said.
American Airlines burned 2.8 billion gallons in 2007. After the recent weight cuts, the carrier estimates it will conserve about 111 million gallons this year.
JetBlue’s aircraft are 1,079 pounds lighter after removing extra trash bins, flight kits, supplies and seats, said JetBlue spokesman Bryan Baldwin. The weight loss will save the carrier roughly $16,000 per day, he said.