British Airways (BA) has been voted the least environmentally friendly brand according to a Marketing Week survey, with American Airlines, Ryanair and easyJet following close behind.
The online survey asked 1,132 adults to name the brands they thought were the most friendly and unfriendly towards the environment from a list that included a diverse range of organisations including airlines, fuel companies, supermarkets, car manufacturers, and cosmetic companies.
But despite reminders from the aviation industry that air travel accounts for just 1.6% of global CO2 emissions ” road transport being a far larger offender ” the airlines were all high in the unfriendly list, with fuel giant Texaco just 10th on the list, Shell 11th, Esso 15th and BP in the ”friendly” category. Even British Nuclear Fuels faired better at number 13.
Asked by ABTN for his views on the results, Marketing Week editor, Stuart Smith, speculated: ”Airlines have been targeted because there”s been a lot of negative press about them in the media recently, but I think in a way BA is the unfortunate victim as it”s no worse than the others ” they”re simply the biggest brand name.”
Second on the list of unfriendly brands was American Airlines, which Smith put down to what he termed ”the George Bush effect,” and the country”s lackadaisical approach to reducing emissions.
Much of the response, Smith argued, is down to who”s running the airline: ”Ryanair [third on the list] has not been helped by the cynicism of its CEO towards carbon emissions trading and its ”save the coupon” marketing schemes that now seem tacky and irresponsible.
”EasyJet [fifth after Range Rover] have faired better as Stelios has been a bit more circumspect, promoting the rational argument of better, newer and therefore cleaner aircraft and Virgin Atlantic, whilst it doesn”t do anything particularly different, is the consumer champion and Branson is seen as the world”s friend.”
Unsurprisingly, the airlines were quick to respond. BA released a statement saying it was ”very surprised” at the report”s findings. It countered: ”We were the first airline to set a public target for fuel efficiency; we led the successful campaign for the EU emissions trading scheme and are the only airline to have taken part in such a scheme.
”We were the first airline to introduce a carbon offset initiative for customers and we have funded research into alternative aviation fuels and pioneered operational practices such as continuous descent approaches to reduce fuel burn and emissions.”
American Airlines also emphasised its various green initiatives such as the Fuel Smart programme and introduction of winglets on its Boeing 737 and 757 fleet. A spokesperson for the company gave the following statement: "The survey doesn”t reflect the actual care that American Airlines takes in sustaining the environment. We are committed to running an airline that is focused on minimizing any effect on the global environment."
Ryanair head of communications, Peter Sherrard, said: ”These findings confirm the current inaccurate media hysteria that is being fed to the public ” ignoring the fact that aviation accounts for less than 2% of emissions. The reality is that Ryanair is Europe”s greenest and cleanest airline.”