Bernie Baldwin

Supporting forward-looking airlines communicate the environmental impact of their flights.

“The grand vision is to be able to provide climate footprint calculations for all sorts of travel products meaning air travel, travel by land and water, accommodation, perhaps some location services as well.” Jussi Ahola, CEO and cofounder of Oncarbon, is enthusiastically explaining the Tamperebased company’s goals.

“The customers of Oncarbon at the moment are travel agencies and OTAs, but I’m at CONNECT because we are also looking to build an offering that would be geared more towards airline companies, which in turn could help their passengers,” he remarks. “For example, we recently went live with our emissions data for a Finnish travel agency. We do the emissions calculation for the whole itinerary. If you’re really into finding out more about that, the website has a full breakdown of all the parameters that we’re using.

“We take into account the aircraft type, the number of seats in the aircraft, the distance, of course, plus some airport properties such as the taxiing times. There’s also an estimation of cargo, and that gives us the fuel burn number. We then attribute that in part to the cargo and also in part to the seats on that aircraft, and then translate that into emissions.”

Ahola admits that, currently, all calculations are per seat, not per passenger. The aim, however, is to use load factor figures to refine the model and get a more accurate reading of what the carbon footprint per person is. “Right now, we basically give a number and a breakdown of that number and the methodology of how it was derived. We’re building a database of all the flights that happen in the world, with 90-95% coverage. Then we will run all those flights through our emissions calculation algorithm and based on that, we will have our database,” he elaborates.

With this the Oncarbon app can look into itineraries, such as all those between Helsinki and Barcelona, and show how an itinerary that a consumer is looking to purchase compares with other itineraries that are available for that route.

“This is the thing that we are investigating in partnership with airlines, to assess if this would have demand with airlines in the sense that, say, Finnair is really efficient on some route and would want to show this to consumers looking to buy a Finnair flight.

“This could form part of an airline’s revenue strategy in that, if you can feed the right information and a passenger chooses airline A over airline B because of the efficiency of the flight, a royalty from the airline could go to Oncarbon if the company can show that the data was instrumental in making the choice. “We don’t have the data to make that claim yet. Right now, with travel agencies and airlines, we are looking to establish a monthly subscription model for this service,” Ahola states.

“With airlines, we’d be interested in doing some sort of data swap agreements. If we can get some fuel burn data or information about the number of passengers on given flights, which could help refine our models, then we would be able to perhaps provide them with this in return or, of course, money can be some component in that as well,” he concludes