Planes painted white are more efficient than planes painted in a dark colour. Because light paint is literally lighter and the pigments in dark paint can add the equivalent weight of eight passengers.
Airlines care about efficiencies and passengers probably don’t care what colour the plane is.
Then why paint the plane at all? We could rather polish it instead.
But then we’d need to wash it more frequently to prevent corrosion. And white paint would still be cheaper because any money saved on painting would be offet against the cleaning.
Yet even on a 115+ tonne plane, every gram counts.
In 1998, United Airlines switched to lighter paper for their in-flight magazine, saving 28g per printed copy. This saved £11 for a full flight. And when multiplied across their whole fleet, United saved 643,520 litres of fuel worth £174,698.
New beverage carts now weigh half what the old ones used to weigh. New cargo containers are lighter, saving 7.5 million litres of fuel per year, and stopping duty-free sales saved United another 5 million litres—combined savings of about £5 million.
Giving pilots a tablet instead of a paper manual saves 36kg per flight. And although this might not sound like much, it equates to over 2 million litres of fuel a year, about £750,000 in cost savings annually.
Airlines care about costs and customers care about spending their money on competitively-priced tickets.
In 1987, American Airlines saved £28,000 a year by removing just one olive from every single salad served to their customers.
Airlines care about profits and customers who care about how many olives they get might feel shortchanged by this slight.
In 2009, Air Nippon Airways asked passengers to visit the bathroom before boarding. Nippon calculated that a full Boeing 747 could hold over 100kgs of urine inside their passengers and if everybody emptied their bladder they could reduce carbon emissions by 5 tonnes over the course of a month.
Airlines must care about the environment and conscious customers care about their footprint too.
At the heart of our drive for efficiency is the generosity to give value to our customer.