Airlines shed weight as fuel costs soar

TOKYO, July 6, 2008 (AFP) – Next time you take to the skies you may find there are fewer pages in your in-flight magazine, your fork is slimmer and your plate feels different. Blame it on soaring oil prices. The seat you are sitting on may be lighter. Perhaps there’s less water on board for the bathroom faucets and toilets. The drinks trolley coming your way probably weighs less too.

It’s all part of efforts by airlines to shed weight and conserve fuel, running in tandem with more radical steps such as cutting routes and capacity.

“Individually they may sound quite trivial but they all add up,” said Andrew Herdman, director general of the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines.

“Obviously, the more expensive the fuel, the more the savings translate into. Given that oil prices are at a record high and have quadrupled over the past few years, there’s even more effort” to reduce weight, he told AFP.

Japan Airlines (JAL), Asia’s largest carrier, is among carriers that are putting fewer pages into their in-flight magazines.

It has also slimmed the handles of its forks and spoons, reducing their weight by two grammes (0.07 ounces) each, said JAL spokesman Hisanori Iizuka.

The weight of