EasyJet unveils design for 'eco-liner'


British low-cost airline easyJet has unveiled its vision of a shorthaul aircraft that it hopes will generate 50 per cent less carbon dioxide than its current planes.

Chief executive Andy Harrison unveiled a model of an "eco-liner", designed by easyJet, that he hopes will be in operation by 2015.

The narrow-bodied aircraft, which has distinctive "open-rotor" engines at the rear, would have a wide tail fin, with a lightweight body constructed of carbon composites.

It would need to emit 50 per cent less carbon dioxide and 75 per cent less nitrogen oxide than today's newest aircraft, he said. The design would also cut noise by 25 per cent.

EasyJet chief executive Andy Harrison poses with the model of the new ecoJet
EasyJet chief executive Andy Harrison poses with the model of the new ecoJet

"This is not Star Trek technology," Mr Harrison said. "We at easyJet care about the environment. We think that global warming is a near certainty and that this generation need to take action now."

Mr Harrison said easyJet were talking to Boeing and Airbus about building the planes. "We are currently spending £4 billion pounds on aircraft - they are listening to us," he added.

Budget airlines have been under fire recently from environmental groups and politicians for their contribution to global warming. According to figures from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, airlines contribute just two per cent to global carbon emissions, but critics claim that in Europe the aviation industry accounts for nearly 20 per cent of emissions.

Mr Harrison said low-cost airlines were generally more environmentally efficient than other carriers, pointing to the low average age of easyJet aircraft and a higher number of passengers per flight.

"Aviation needs to be kept in perspective. It's only a very small part of global warming but nevertheless we feel that aviation needs to play its part because it will be an important, albeit only a small part, in the overall solution," he said.

He also announced that easyJet would shortly introduce an industry-leading carbon off-setting scheme and had already called for 600 of Europe's oldest aircraft to be banned from the skies.

EasyJet currently operates 131 planes on 292 routes between 75 airports in 20 countries.