Atmospheric emissions at airport are generated by various operators: Finavia, air carriers, ground handling companies, other companies operating within airports and the Finnish Defence Forces. Finavia takes full responsibility of its own operations and emissions, and as a proprietor, the partial responsibility for the environmental impacts generated by airports.
Air traffic is a form of public transport that burdens the environment like other forms of transport.
In Finland, emissions and energy consumption of all modes of transport are being monitored with an emission calculation system LIPASTO, maintained by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. The system includes air traffic emissions and energy consumption in the Finnish flight information region.
On the global level, international regulations and agreements play a key role in reducing aviation emissions and energy consumption. The limit values for aircraft exhaust fumes also force the aircraft industry to produce technologies that generate lower emission levels. Domestic and foreign air traffic have been part of the EU’s emissions trading scheme from 2012 as a forerunner for all forms of transport.
Because airlines own the aircraft, they make important decision when choosing new, energy-efficient low-emission aircraft types. The aircraft are now more economic and efficient than ever before.
The calculated energy consumption of jets per person has decreased by almost 50% compared to the 1970s. The consumption of fuel per passenger and per kilometre travelled is approximately 70 per cent more efficient than 40 years ago. Nowadays, wide-bodied long-haul aircraft consume approximately three litres of fuel per hundred passenger kilometres. On shorter flights, a jet passenger plane consumes fuel in the region of 3–5 litres/passenger/100 km, if the plane is full. Long flights are more efficient and cleaner in terms of energy consumption and emissions that short flights.
Around half of domestic flights are flown with modern planes powered by turbo propeller engines. New turbo propeller planes use significantly less fuel per passenger kilometre than jets. Their consumption per passenger is even lower than the consumption of cars. A full ATR-72 aircraft, for example, uses 2.5–3 litres of fuel per hundred passenger kilometres.
Although passengers nowadays fly to their destinations with increasingly small amounts of energy and less emissions, the growth in air traffic is increasing the consumption of energy and emissions worldwide. Suitability of biofuels for aviation is being studied and some test flights have already been made. Economic measures can also be used to try and direct the development of emissions.
According to the environmental legislation, Finavia is responsible for investigating the environmental impact of its operations. Impacts monitored annually include emissions at airports. Various operations and operators, such as aviation, ground equipment traffic in the apron area, vehicles in the ground traffic area and the airport's own power plants generate atmospheric emissions at the airport area.
Finavia calculates aircraft emissions using the LTO (Landing and Take-Off) cycle. The calculation includes emissions caused by take-off and landing up to 915 m (3,000 feet) and the associated taxiing. For a large passenger aircraft this means emissions from the distance of approximately six kilometres from the airport during takeoffs and 18 kilometres during landings.
Finavia also calculates the emissions from its own ground equipment at airports from the amount of purchased fuel. Unit-specific emission amounts from LIPASTO are used in calculating road traffic emissions for cars, vans and lorries.
The total emissions and energy consumption of Finavia’s ground equipment and aircraft during an LTO cycle are published annually in Finavia’s Annual Report.
The emissions and energy consumption of Finavia’s ground equipment represent approximately 4% of the total emissions of airports.
Finavia participates in an international programme for reducing carbon dioxide emissions (ACA = Airport Carbon Accreditation). In addition, carbon dioxide emissions of Finavia’s entire airport network are calculated annually and reported in the Annual Report.