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Norwegian plane flying over green trees
Date: 3 January 2019

Fly green, choose red!


You know it and we know it: Flying is not environmentally friendly, but sometimes we have do it all the same. So if you intend to fly, then opt for the greenest alternative. Compared to all the other airlines with flights between Europe and the USA, Norwegian is the most fuel-efficient.

Norwegian works hard to ensure that flights are as environmentally friendly as possible. The most important thing an airline can do in order to reduce emissions, is to invest in new aircraft.

New planes help the environment

Green grass and Norwegian aircraft

Norwegian is the world’s most fuel-efficient airline on transatlantic routes

Norwegian is happy to be able to carry passengers on a new and modern fleet that helps ensure the lowest discharges in the business.

When it comes to flights between Europe and the USA, Norwegian is the greenest airline in the world, thanks to its use of energy efficient 787 Dreamliners and Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.

In the near future, Norwegian will acquire even more fuel-efficient planes, while at the same time phasing out older aircraft, so it will continue to be one of the most environmentally-friendly airlines in the world.

Lighter aircraft need less fuel

Director of Flight Operations at Norwegian, Tomas Hesthammer, stresses how important it is that everyone takes responsibility for the environment: “Norwegian have taken their environmental responsibilities seriously in several fields, the most important one being our investment in new, modern aircraft. What is unique about these planes is that they are made of light materials and have more efficient engines that reduce the amount of fuel needed,” says Tomas.


In order to reduce emissions per passenger, it is also important that flights are as fully booked as possible, and to fly as direct a route as possible without unnecessary stopovers.

Norwegian greenest on Atlantic crossings

Golden Gate Bridge in San Franciso

Norwegian is the greenest airline flying from Europe to the USA

In September 2018, the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) named Norwegian as the world’s most fuel-efficient airline on transatlantic routes.

“We are by no means saying that flying is environmentally friendly,” stresses Lasse Sandaker-Nielsen, Director of Communications at Norwegian. “But Norwegian is working with commitment to reduce emissions from air traffic, and to support a sustainable environmental policy,” he adds.

Norwegian’s new aircraft consume approximately 20% less fuel than the older planes. This means that a new Boeing 737 MAX needs about 550 litres less fuel than before, for every hour it’s in the air.

A new and modern air fleet helps reduce emissions

Child holding cardboard airplane

Norwegian’s young fleet reduces the emissions per passenger

Norwegian’s fleet has an average age of 3.7 years, one of the youngest and greenest in the world. Thanks to the low age of the fleet, the company has reduced emissions per passenger by 30% since 2008.

Lasse Sandaker-Nielsen gives us an example of this: “If you compare a 737-800 that has been in operation for a few years with our new 737 MAX, the new aircraft will save about 6,000 litres of fuel on a return flight from Oslo to Las Palmas, and emit approximately 15 tonnes less of CO2 into the atmosphere. That’s a reduction equivalent to 242 car journeys from Oslo to Bergen.”

Full flights vs. cars with few passengers

Snow-covered road and trees

In some cases, flights can emit less CO2 per passenger than cars without passengers. Photo: Jørgen Syversen

Sandaker-Nielsen has another example which shows flying sometimes results in less CO2 emissions than driving: “A car with a driver and no passengers, driving from Oslo to Bergen, will emit 62kg of CO2, whereas one single passenger on a Boeing 737-800, which seats 186 passengers and is 90% fully booked (i.e. 167 passengers), will be responsible for the emission of 37kg of CO2. The plane will emit a total of 6,164kg of CO2.”

“If we take 27 cars and fill them up with five people in each car, we can carry 135 people over the mountains to Bergen. With an emission of 62kg of CO2 per car, we will then discharge 1,674kg of CO2.”

“On the other hand, if the cars are not full, and you divide the aforementioned 167 flight passengers among 100 cars, they will emit a total of 6,200kg of CO2, i.e. a little more than the plane,” says Sandaker-Nielsen.

In the latter example above, we see that the aircraft, which is not filled to capacity, emits less CO2 than the cars.

Always fly the shortest distance

Norwegian plane flying over snowy field

Flying always covers the shortest distance from A to B, compared to driving

The figures mentioned above are from a report by the Institute of Transport Economics (ITE) entitled “The economic and environmental impact of air transport,” and the vehicle used as an example is an average Norwegian passenger car.

“Furthermore, the distance covered by an aircraft from A to B, will always be shorter than that of a car, a fact which is also illustrated in the ITE report. In this way, when it comes to a given journey from A to B, the aircraft comes out even better compared to the car, than what is indicated by CO2 per kilometre alone,” Sandaker-Nielsen points out.

Norwegian pilots in cockpit

So-called “green approaches” reduce emissions during the final stages of the flight. Photo: Bo Mathisen

Norwegian operate many direct flights. In this way, the company ensures a considerable reduction in emissions by engaging in fewer fuel-intensive landings and take-offs. These “green” Continuous Descent Approaches (CDAs) reduce the overall amount of emissions made at the end of a flight.

Investing in new aircraft

Norwegian Dreamliner Interior

Inside a Norwegian Dreamliner’s Sky Interior cabin, part of the new fleet

Norwegian’s aim is to continue reducing emissions per passenger and help make aviation carbon neutral by 2050.

The most important contribution an airline can make towards reducing emissions, is to invest in new aircraft, and Norwegian are continuously investing in their new fleet.

In 2017, Norwegian acquired 17 new Boeing 737-800s, nine Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners and six Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. The company also phased out four 737-800s. This renewal of the fleet has contributed towards even further reductions in emissions per passenger.

Travel as green as possible with Norwegian

Girl and parent waiting to board Norwegian flight

Once you have decided to fly, choose the greenest alternative

We know that holiday and leisure flights abroad mean a lot to travellers. It’s all about being with friends and family, experiencing new things, relaxing, and recharging the batteries.

Figures from the ITE report ‘The welfare value of leisure air travel abroad‘ show that only relatively few people think that information about the climatic effects of air travel will influence their decision on whether to travel or not. But if we are going to fly anyway, one thing we can do is choose a company which is dedicated to reducing emissions and being greener, like Norwegian.

Read more about what Norwegian are doing to reduce the strain on the environment.


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