Planes Slowing Down to Save on Fuel Costs

Airlines save millions by adding extra minutes to flights
By Ambreen Ali,  Newser User
Posted May 3, 2008 12:30 PM CDT
Fliers are unlikely to notice the eight minutes Northwest Airlines added to its nearly nine-hour flight from Paris to Minneapolis. But the airline is saving $535 per leg.   (Magnum Photos)
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(Newser) – As airlines feel the pain of higher energy prices, planes are slowing down to save fuel, the AP reports. Southwest, for instance, will save $42 million by adding a few minutes to each flight this year, and passengers are unlikely to notice. But it’s no cure-all: Labor costs go up with flight time, and going too slowly actually increases fuel costs.

The strained industry is pinching pennies in other ways, too. Many carriers are staying connected to ground power longer. United is investing in software to help pilots find the most efficient routes. American, which won’t be lengthening flights, installed wing stabilizers to boost fuel efficiency. And, of course, airlines are also raising fares and tacking on fuel surcharges.