U.S. carriers not seeing green

Airlines outside of North America consider environmental issues far more of a challenge than North American airlines do, according to a survey.

Sabre Airline Solutions, which authored the survey, said it received responses from 197 executives and managers from 101 airlines worldwide. Regions were grouped so there would be enough responses to make the results statistically valid.

Airlines everywhere considered fuel costs to be their biggest challenge, the survey said. But the biggest difference between North American carriers and their global counterparts came on the environment, perhaps because airlines elsewhere, especially Europe, are facing far more pressure over greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.

"As long as U.S. carriers are focused on survival and rebuilding their balance sheets, and their regulatory climate is not pushing hard, they will not likely embrace environmental concerns as much as European or other regions' carriers," said Steve Hendrickson, senior strategist for Sabre Airline Solutions.

Nearly half of respondents said they believed developing new revenue streams was important to their overall revenue strategy, but they also had some doubts about the effectiveness of charging customers for items like meals and seat selection.

In another difference of opinion, only 15% of North American airlines thought an inability to secure new routes would be among their top three revenue impediments, while 30% of airlines in the rest of the world did.

That might be because carriers in some other countries still fly in a regulated domestic market or face more restrictions on entry into international routes, Hendrickson said. U.S. carriers' international service restrictions have been lessened by the U.S. government's bilateral agreements or eliminated by various open-skies deals.

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