China Urges Pre-Flight Toilet Training To Save Fuel

November 30, 2006

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A Chinese airline has calculated that it takes a litre of fuel to flush the toilet at 30,000 feet and is urging passengers to go to the bathroom before they board.

As Chinese airlines come under increasing pressure to cut fuel expenditures, China Southern's latest strategy is to encourage passengers "to spend their pennies before boarding the aircraft", Xinhua news agency reported on Thursday.

"The energy used in one flush is enough for an economical car to run at least 10 kilometres," Captain Liu Zhiyuan, who flies regularly between Hangzhou and Beijing, was quoted as saying.

Citing a survey by the company's logistics department, Liu said carrying one kilogram of items such as blankets and pillows by air for one hour uses 0.2 kg of fuel.

"This means the blankets and pillows on board the aircraft eat up 60 tonnes of fuel every day. If each seat is loaded with three 450 gram magazines, another 60 tonnes will be consumed," Liu explained.

Another cost-saving technique will keep CNY47 million yuan (USD$6 million) a year in the airline's coffers, Xinhua said.

"The company has asked logistics staff to fill the water tank only 60 percent full."

In the first half of the year, the "aggregated loss" of Chinese airlines was estimated at around CNY3 billion (USD$382 million), Xinhua said.