Budget airline easyJet, based in Britain, could be using electric jets for hauling passengers on short-haul flights within the next decade as it pushes to cut pollution from airplanes, said the company in a statement on Wednesday.
In March, the airline announced that it would be partnering with Wright Electric, a startup based in the U.S. develop electric powered passenger jets and aims to have planes with a range of 335 miles that could fly approximately 20% of the current routes easyJet has.
easyJet said that its support for the electric powered plane is part of its broader strategy of reducing nitrous oxide and carbon emissions in the aviation industry, following a lead taken by the automotive and rail industries.
CEO of easyJet Carolyn McCall said that for just the first time, the airline industry is able to envisage a future that is not reliant in full on jet fuel and the harmful NOX and CO2 emissions.
The airline already is targeting a cut of 10% in emissions per passenger and per kilometer before 2022 through using jets that are more efficient, like the Airbus A320neo, which the airline has two of with 98 more on order to be delivered by August of 2022.
Fuel for airlines is one of their biggest costs and they have invested in different ways to lower the quantity used, including through buying new aircraft with engines that are more fuel efficient.
Airlines like Air France, Lufthansa, and Virgin Atlantic have been researching use of alternative fuels.
Airbus has been developing electric powered aircraft and flew E-Fan its two-seater across the English Channel in 2015, but is expecting hybrid systems will come out first for commercial jets until batteries needed to power planes that are electric become much lighter.
easyJet said as well that it was partnering with Safran, a French company to trial a taxiing system that is zero emission for its planes, while electric tugs are to be introduced at its Gatwick terminals.
The CCO at easyJet, Peter Duffy, said that new technologies being designed now could completely remove the use of all carbon fuels and noise from airport operations.
British Airways said earlier in the week that it was using electric tugs that were remote controlled to push short haul aircraft away from their departing gates.
Analysts and investors have become focused on a capital markets day by easyJet at Gatwick. While the airline is not providing trading updates, analysts think the market is going to be surprised by details behind the ancillary revenue streams of the group and the innovations on that front.