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U.S. airlines still blowing smoke

U.S. airline fuel efficiencyWASHINGTON, DC: A new report by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) says U.S. airlines were unable to reduce their C02 emissions in 2013.

The ICCT says U.S. domestic airline operations now account for 24 percent of global commercial aviation C02 emissions. The 13 American carriers are expected to increase their emissions from 116 million tonnes this year to 143 million tonnes of C02 by 2034. Accordng to the ICCT, if counted as a country the U.S. aviation sector ranks 7th in terms of C02 emissions, just after Germany and "well ahead" of Korea.

Alaska, Spirit, and Frontier tied for first place in fuel efficiency last year while American Airlines came bottom of the list. Frontier improved 10 percent from 2012 to 2013 due to changes in technology and operations.

The report notes the gap between the most and least fuel-efficient airline widened to 27 percent in 2013. Allegiant improved its score by adding  Boeing B757-200s, A320s and A319 aircraft while American's fuel efficiency declined by 1.5 percent from 2012 to 2013.

The ICCT says although several airlines reduced their overall fuel consumption, others such as American Airlines showed little improvement, "or even backsliding", in efficiency. It suggests the lack of general emissions improvement is caused by the use of less efficient aircraft between 1990 and 2010; the time lag between new aircraft delivery and aircraft replacement; and the diminishing gains from increased load factors.

Despite the fact all the airlines produced a profit last year, the ICCT says there is no obvious causal link to emission reduction.

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