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British Airways overhauls airport equipment at Heathrow to help reduce emissions

British Airways announced that it is embarking on what it describes as a “multi-million pound investment” to upgrade its ground support equipment at London-Heathrow Airport (LHR) in order to reduce emissions both in the air and on the ground.

The airline said that it will gradually be replacing its ground vehicles at Heathrow, such as vans and cars, cargo transporters and passenger steps, moving towards hybrid or electric alternatives where available. 

According to British Airways, more than 90% of its vehicles and ground equipment at Heathrow are either zero emissions electrical equipment when being used or driven, (hybrids) or are operating on Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) fuel. 

Part of the improvement plans include:

Replacing more than 750 pieces of British Airways’ ground equipment, including fuel bowsers from fossil fuel to HVO.  

Replacing all diesel passenger aircraft steps with electric alternatives. This aims to reduce fuel consumption by more than 370 tons of CO2 emissions per year, based on previous diesel usage. Many of the electric steps will be in full service by the end of the year. 

Phasing out the airline’s fleet of 20 diesel-powered vehicles which support the loading and unloading of cargo containers onto aircraft, replacing them with Hybrid Electric models.  

Introducing 135 new electric baggage tugs, accounting for 40% of the airline’s current tugs, to transport customer’s luggage. This improved battery and charging technology utilizes highly efficient lithium-ion battery technology, requiring less energy and producing 30% less C02 when in use compared to traditional lead acid batteries. 

Gradually phasing out all 38 diesel passenger buses over the next two years, with 23 expected to be fully electric and the remaining 15 operating on HVO fuel, with a large charging park at LHR Airport now in the early stages of development.

“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,” Tom Moran, British Airways’ Director of Heathrow said in a statement.

“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 minimize 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,” Moran added.

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