Running an airline is a cutthroat business. Competition runs high, and profit margins are tight. So it’s no surprise that airline executives will jump on ways to control costs and allow them to fly planes just that little bit more cheaply. But one way that American Airlines stumbled upon in the 1980s may surprise you.
One way to cut costs is to reduce the amount of fuel needed to power the plane. And airlines continually seek ways to shave as much weight as possible from their aircraft. As United Airlines’ environmental strategy head Aaron Stash pointed out to TV station CBS News in 2018, “Any time we can reduce even an ounce of weight, that means we burn less fuel to fly to that destination.”