British Airways is investing millions of pounds to upgrade its ground support equipment at Heathrow Airport, as part of its commitment to cutting emissions both in the air and on the ground. The airline will gradually replace its ground vehicles at Heathrow, including vans and sedans, freight movers, and passenger stairs, with hybrid or electric alternatives where available. Already, more than 90% of British Airways’ cars and ground equipment at Heathrow are either zero-emission electrical equipment (hybrids) or run on hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO).

Improvements include:

Over 750 pieces of ground equipment, including fuel bowsers, are being replaced using HVO instead of fossil fuel. HVO is an interim measure as the airline gradually transitions to zero-emission (when operated or driven) or hybrid equipment. HVO, supplied by the airline’s current sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) supplier, Phillips 66, is expected to save more than 6,000 tonnes of CO2 per year when compared to traditional diesel fuel, which is equivalent to more than 8,000 round-trip economy passenger journeys between London Heathrow and JFK.

Replace all diesel passenger airplane stairs with electric replacements. This intends to reduce fuel use by more than 370 tons of CO2 emissions each year, based on prior diesel usage, which is comparable to almost 500 round-trip economy passenger rides between London Heathrow and JFK. Many of the electric stairs will be fully operational by the end of the year.

It is replacing its fleet of 20 diesel-powered vehicles used to load and unload cargo containers onto aircraft with Hybrid Electric versions.
Introducing 135 new electric baggage tugs, representing for 40% of our tug fleet, to move customer luggage. This upgraded battery and charging technology makes use of extremely efficient lithium-ion battery technology, which requires less energy and emits 30% less CO2 when in use than standard lead acid batteries. We are working closely with our supply chain to recycle as many battery components as possible at the end of their life.

Over the next two years, all 38 diesel passenger buses will be phased out, with 23 scheduled to be entirely electric and the remaining 15 operating on HVO fuel, with a big charging park at Heathrow now being developed. The usage of these vehicles is estimated to save 800 tonnes of CO2 emissions each year, hence reducing negative air quality impacts in the Heathrow area.

Tom Moran, British Airways’ Director of Heathrow, stated:

At British Airways, we are committed to reaching net zero emissions by 2050 or sooner and our focus isn’t just about reducing emissions in the air, but on the ground too. This major investment into our vehicles at Heathrow is our largest investment in more sustainable airport ground operations to date and is part of our wider environmental objective to minimise emissions from our airside ground operation. We’re proud of the work we are doing in this space and are excited to continue improving the running of our ground operations at Heathrow.”

Carrie Harris, British Airways’ Director of Sustainability, stated:

I am incredibly proud of this project, which has been driven by our Heathrow ground operations teams and encapsulates our BA Better World ethos of raising awareness of our strategy to all of our colleagues, and inspiring them to play a part in minimising our environmental impact where possible. Their energy, enthusiasm and innovative approach in bringing the project to life shows what can be achieved and this investment demonstrates our ongoing commitment to making improvements across our business that will benefit both our customers and colleagues.

These enhancements are part of British Airways’ £7 billion commitment in transformation across various areas of its operations over the next three years. They also build on previous ground improvements made by the airline, such as the introduction of electric and hybrid cars for driving airside-based colleagues around the airside roadways, the use of remote-controlled pushback vehicles known as Mototoks for short-haul aircraft, and the requirement that aircraft plug into electricity at Heathrow when on stand to help power the lights and air conditioning.


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