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Continental Airlines Spotlights Environmental Awareness

Houston Airport System
April 26, 2010

© Houston Airport System
Continental Airlines used algae and jatropha to fuel the flight shown above

Continental Airlines is celebrating “Earth Day” 2010 by highlighting some impressive environmental milestones.

The Houston-based carrier chose April 22nd to spotlight environmental initiatives ranging from recycling efforts to the use of biofuels as a means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“At Continental, we take environmental responsibility seriously with our comprehensive programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; promote recycling in-flight and at facilities; support alternative fuel development; construct facilities responsibly; and offer customers a thoughtful carbon offsetting option,” said Leah Raney, Continental’s managing director of global environmental affairs.

The effort to recycle reached new heights between 2006 and 2009, as the Continental team collected almost 17 million pounds of recyclable materials from its hub airports.

The airlines’ recycling efforts were recently expanded to include programs that are carried out within the planes themselves, as well as airport terminals and other supporting facilities.

The effort to find new “eco-friendly” ground has been especially successful in the use of alternative fuels, as Continental Airlines stands as the first U.S. carrier to perform a two-engine aircraft flight demonstration using sustainable biofuels, a test which took place in January 2009 at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH).

On that flight, Continental chose algae and jatropha as biofuel sources, since neither one competes with food crops, deplete water resources or contribute to deforestation.

“The number one way that an airline can substantively reduce its impact on the environment is by lowering greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft by reducing the amount of fuel we burn,” said Raney.

In addition to the biofuel experimentation, Continental is also looking to improve operational procedures through next-generation technology, and as a result, burn less fuel and minimize the amount of carbon emissions.

The new technology allows Continental to employ an enhanced flight-system that guides pilots to the most efficient flight path, lessening the amount of time and fuel necessary for approach and landing.

These efforts are in addition to the sizeable investment already made by the airline, with more than $13 billion being spent over the past 12 years to acquire 300 fuel-efficient aircraft and related equipment.

Going forward, Continental has committed to investing even more resources into new, fuel-efficient aircraft and ground equipment through 2016, announcing plans to spend $10 billion on 25 Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft and additional eco-friendly equipment.

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