Virgin Atlantic working to lower aircraft emissions

Reuters reports that Rebel Billionaire Richard Branson's airline, Virgin Atlantic, plans to test cutting aircraft emissions by towing planes to takeoff areas at Heathrow and Gatwick (rather than having the planes taxi there with engines ablaze).

"Airlines are coming under increasing pressure to cut emissions following a boom in air travel which has made aircraft one of the fastest-growing sources of greenhouse gases," according to the Reuters report.

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This is the second time I've seen evidence of Virgin actively looking to make a difference in that regard, the first being when Branson announced he will spend all the profits from his airline and rail businesses to fight global warming.

It also comes in stark contrast to protests from other corners of the aviation industry upset at European Commission plans to enact restrictive new carbon dioxide emissions rules.

On a recent transatlantic flight from London to Boston, I had the chance to fly on Virgin for the first time. (I'm usually a Delta guy, because that's where my miles are hoarded.) Not only did I get a free upgrade to Virgin's version of "Economy Plus," I also had the satisfaction of knowing this one airline, at least, shares some of the global concern over emissions—enough to actually try to do something about it.

It's no coincidence that I plan to fly Virgin again the next time my travels take me to Europe.

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