An American Airlines plane flies over the ocean, towards a beautiful mountainous landscape

Addressing climate change

The low-carbon transition is both urgent and underway, and American is working to transition to operating a resilient, competitive and low-carbon airline so that we continue to thrive. As we do with any strategic imperative, we have set aggressive goals.

Our climate goals

  • Achieve absolute reduction of 50m gallons of jet fuel from fuel efficiency initiatives by 2025
  • Source 2.5M GJs of cost-competitive renewable energy by 2025
  • Fly 30% of available seat miles with best-in-class aircraft by 2025
  • Replace 10% of our jet fuel with SAF by 2030
  • Reduce GHG emissions per unit of passenger and cargo payload transported, by 45% by 2035. (SBTI validated goal)
  • Reduce scope 2 emissions by 40% by 2035 (SBTI validated goal)
  • Achieve net zero emissions by 2050

* SBTi Validated Goal

Illustration of an airplane with clouds in background
The carbon anatomy of a flight

Carbon anatomy of a flight

Many factors determine the amount of GHG emissions associated with a particular flight. Fuel efficiency of the aircraft is a key factor, but it’s not the only one — and efficiency itself is influenced by a complex set of variables. Here are the main determinants of a flight’s carbon footprint:

Aircraft design

Modern aircraft incorporate many features to save fuel, including the use of lightweight materials, aerodynamic design and more fuel-efficient engines.

Distance of flight

The takeoff and climb phases of a flight burn more fuel than the cruising or landing phases, which makes shorter flights less fuel efficient than long-haul flights.

On the ground

Single-engine taxiing and the use of high-speed tugs reduce the amount of jet fuel needed to move aircraft on the ground. And operators plug into grid electricity at the gate, which is typically less carbon intensive than using the plane’s auxiliary power.

Type of fuel

While the vast majority of aviation fuel used today is petroleum-based, sustainable aviation fuel from renewable feedstocks can cut life cycle carbon emissions related to fuel by up to 80%.
Illustration showing planes on an airport tarmac
One way airlines measure fuel efficiency and GHG intensity is by dividing absolute fuel use or emissions by revenue ton miles (RTM). RTM is the weight of revenue-generating passengers and cargo, and it — along with GHG intensity — is affected by the following factors:
Seats on a plane

Seats on a plane

The number of seats on a given aircraft varies depending on how it is configured — such as the space devoted to first-class seating, galleys and bathrooms — and the design of the seats themselves.

Number of passengers

Number of passengers

While the number of seats on a plane determines the maximum passenger capacity, any given flight may operate with fewer passengers. Operating at or close to the maximum capacity increases fuel efficiency.



Many passenger flights also carry cargo, which may include mail and items like medicines that need to get to their destinations quickly. This adds payload and increases efficiency.

Pathway to net zero

Pathway to net zero

Our strategy for reaching net zero GHG emissions by 2050 is focused on running an ever more fuel-efficient operation, primarily by operating more fuel-efficient aircraft that are increasingly powered by low-carbon fuel.

More about our pathway to net zero >
Sustainable aviation fuel

Sustainable aviation fuel

Purchasing and helping scale the production of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) — which reduces life cycle emissions by up to 80% compared to conventional fuel — is the cornerstone of our climate strategy this decade.

More about sustainable aviation fuel >

Sustainable operations

Sustainable operations

We work to improve environmental sustainability across all of our operations — from how we construct and power our facilities to how we source the products we provide to our customers on board and in our lounges.

More about sustainable operations >

~70% of 2022 capital expenditures will contribute to our decarbonization efforts

Aligning capital spending with our net zero pathway

From the billions of dollars we have invested in fleet renewal to our comprehensive fuel savings initiatives, American is putting our capital behind a plan to achieve our 2035 GHG reduction target and longer-term net zero goal.

More about capital spending and decarbonization (opens in new tab)

Aligning with the Task Force on Climate-Related Disclosures

American aligns its sustainability reporting with the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). Our 2022 Sustainability Report details our analysis of the climate-related risks and opportunities we face and how those are informing our ongoing risk management and business, strategy and financial planning processes.

Cloudy skies on a sunny day

Visit our Resource Center for links to numerous American Airlines documents, policies, webpages and other sources of information about our company’s approach on various sustainability topics.

Sustainability at American Airlines

Our annual sustainability report details American’s approach to managing our priority sustainability issues, along with highlights of our progress and performance during the year.
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