British budget airline easyJet could be flying electric passenger jets on short-haul routes within a decade in a push to cut plane pollution, the company said on Wednesday.
The airline said in March it would partner with U.S. startup Wright Electric to develop electric passenger jets and is aiming for planes with a range of up to 335 miles (540 km), which could fly about 20 percent of easyJet's routes. EasyJet said its support for electric planes was part of a broader strategy to reduce carbon and nitrous oxide emissions in the aviation sector, following the lead taken by the rail and automotive industries. T
he airline is already targeting a 10 percent cut in emissions per passenger per kilometer by 2022 by using more fuel-efficient jets, such as the new Airbus A320neo.
The airline has two so far and 98 are on order for delivery by August 2022. Fuel is one of the biggest costs for airlines and they have been investing in ways to reduce the amount they use, including by buying new aircraft with more fuel-efficient engines. Airlines such as Lufthansa, Air France-KLM and Virgin Atlantic have also been researching alternative fuels.
Airbus has been developing electric planes and flew its two-seater E-Fan across the channel in 2015, but it expects hybrid fuel systems to come in first for commercial jets - until the batteries needed for electric-only planes become lighter.