Story at a glance

  • The U.K. and Canadian airspace regulators are giving air pilots leeway to try new trans-Atlantic routes.
  • This could result in more fuel-efficient flights.

With airplanes being a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions, some airlines are looking to restructure how they book flights in a bid to reduce their carbon footprints.

CNN reports that with newly clear skies thanks to the pandemic halting the bulk of travel, airspaces are relatively empty. An agreement between NATS and NAV Canada, the agencies who oversee air travel within the United Kingdom and Canadian airspaces, said they’ll temporarily ignore the prescribed travel routes pilots are mandated to take, allowing airlines to choose their paths "based entirely on optimum route, speed and trajectory."

“The dramatic fall in traffic we've seen across the Atlantic has given us a window of opportunity to do things differently, and to introduce things more quickly than otherwise might have been possible," NATS officials told reporters.

Adopting new flight routes gives airlines opportunities to identify potential ways that save fuel and emit less carbon into the atmosphere.

“Our hope is that analysis of these flights, together with other tabletop exercises, will give us the evidence base we need to decide on the value of more permanent changes," said NATS.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its first ever regulations on airline emissions in late 2020.

Published on Feb 11, 2021