SAS achieved the best noise and emissions performance at Heathrow in the summer quarter of the year following the introduction of more modern and fuel-efficient aircraft.

The airport’s latest ‘Fly Quiet and Green’ top 50 ranking, based on seven noise and emissions criteria, shows the Scandinavian carrier taking the top spot for the second time in 2019 by introducing more Airbus A320neos which now account for 80% of all of its flights at Heathrow.

The new generation A320 is 15% more fuel efficient than comparable types and less noisy – the 85 decibel maximum noise-level contour of a starting A320neo is around 50% lower than that of the current A320.

SAS also improved efforts to stick more closely to designated flight paths to give communities more “predictable respite” while using quieter approaching techniques when descending into the airport.

Oman Air moved five places up the table into second place in the third quarter of the year thanks to a “solid” operational performance assisted by the introduction of Boeing 787 Dreamliners that use 25% less fuel per passenger compared with aircraft of a similar size and are 10% more fuel efficient.

Other top performers were Aer Lingus, British Airways short haul, Air Malta, United Airlines, Flybe, Singapore Airlines, Air India and Lufthansa.

The worst for the environment was Air Serbia followed by European Air Transport, Pakistan International Airlines, Korean Air, El Al, China Southern Airlines, Japan Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Air China, Malaysia Airlines and Thai Airways.

Iberia, in 21st place, doubled the proportion of A320neos being used at Heathrow from 6% to 13%.

Heathrow said it will now work closely with the Spanish airline to ensure it improves its track keeping and descent procedures into west London. 

Airport sustainability director Matt Gorman said: “Heathrow is determined to become a world leader in incentivising the next generation of sustainable aircraft that are good for the environment and our local communities.

“We’re working towards this goal by reducing airport charges for airlines using greener aircraft, publishing operational performance results every quarter and reviewing airport charges to incentivise sustainable fuel uptake.

“We continue to be impressed with airlines – particularly SAS – and their commitment to reducing noise and emissions, but we know more must be done. That’s why we will continue to work with our partners and leverage our scale to drive further positive changes in the industry.”

SAS head of sustainability Lars Andersen Resare added: “SAS wants to be at the forefront of the journey towards sustainable aviation, and it is encouraging that we are recognised as the most environmentally friendly airline out of Heathrow.

“SAS is committed to reducing its emissions by 25% in 2030 and continuously developing more sustainable products and services across the business. By introducing new Airbus neos to our fleet, we have been able to reduce emissions and noise levels further than ever before.”