British Airways saved enough fuel to power 550 flights from Heathrow to New York last year following the introduction of an online suggestion box for staff.
More than 200 ideas were submitted by pilots, cabin crew, engineers and ground staff as to how the airline could make further progress towards reducing emissions and cutting fuel bills.
Some of the more unusual suggestions included replacing glass with plastic wine bottles, reducing the amount of water carried in aircraft water tanks, and perhaps most unusually, the descaling of toilet pipes on the Boeing 747 and 777 fleets. Not only did this save some £600,000 as a result of reduced weight, it also improved the performance of the toilets.
The airline has also employed more conventional methods such as reducing the use of auxiliary power units, single engine taxiing and performance improvement packages on more than 40 Boeing 777 aircraft. In total the savings were worth over £20 million.
Jonathon Counsell, head of environment at British Airways, said: “This really has been a team effort. It goes to show that small changes here and there can add up to significant savings. Not only does this help us to reduce our environmental impact, it also saves us money.”
British Airways is already working on more projects to save fuel in 2012, including the use of new, lightweight catering trolleys, headsets and cargo containers.
The airline has also extended a trial of tripleO, a special paint coating that improves aerodynamics and leads to greater fuel efficiency. A Boeing 777 is to be coated, following a successful trial of a smaller Airbus A318.
British Airways is committed to reducing net carbon emissions by 50 per cent by 2050.