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Virgin Atlantic Goes Green

October 2, 2006 By: Mike Jaccarino Travel Agent

Virgin Atlantic Airways is remaking itself as the green airline of choice for anyone who prefers eco-friendly travel. In New York on Wednesday, Chairman Richard Branson announced a host of initiatives intended to cut the carbon dioxide emissions of both Virgin Atlantic and the entire aviation industry by as much as 25 percent. "What we're suggesting would save over 150 million tons of carbon emissions a year," Branson stated. "With global warming, the world is headed for a catastrophe. The aviation industry must play a part in averting that." Richard Branson

Some of the initiatives Virgin Atlantic will carry out
unilaterally within the next two years, and for some it needs the cooperation
of much, if not all, of the aviation industry. In the former camp of
innovations that Virgin plans to implement on its own fall actions like
painting the planes a lighter type of paint, thereby reducing the weight of the
planes and the amount of fuel needed to get it from point A to point B. Virgin
also plans to mandate that all of its pilots implement a more fuel-efficient
method of landing airliners, called the "Continuous Descent Approach"
method, within the next two years. Virgin
is spearheading initiatives to reduce carbon dioxide emissions

But, far and away, Virgin will need the help of the airline
industry as a whole to enact its more ambitious—and potentially effective—plan.
It involves a revolutionary idea of towing airliners to the runway area, rather
than the airliner taxiing into position on its own power. Doing so would reduce
the amount of time that an airliner is running its own engines—which in some
cases, like at John F. Kennedy International Airport,
is as much as 90 minutes. Each airliner would not start its engine until
approximately 10 minutes prior to takeoff. Arriving aircraft would turn off
their engines after five minutes to be towed to their stand, "saving
considerable [emissions]," according to Virgin. Branson says he has
written to the heads of other airlines, including British Airways, American
Airlines and Easyjet, to promote this idea. Visit

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