How Airports Can Meet Their Sustainability Goals by Electrifying Their Fleets

 In Fleet Management

National and international air quality standards are continually requiring airport authorities to address local air quality issues. Although significant improvements have been made in recent years to reduce aircraft emissions, much of this is negated by the continual growth in air travel.

As aircraft are only one of several sources of emissions at an airport, it is essential for airport sustainability managers to manage emissions from other sources. These include airport buildings, airport ground service equipment (GSE), and ground vehicles traveling around, to and from airports.

Many major airports now have extensive sustainability action plans, communicated through their sustainability reports, to mitigate these impacts. A key component of these plans focused on minimizing greenhouse gas (GHG) and particle emissions to improve local air quality. The principal emissions of concern for airports are nitrogen oxides (NOx) that originate from combustion engines.

Responsibilities of an Airport Sustainability Manager

Airport sustainability managers are targeted with finding economically efficient ways for their airport to reduce its environmental footprint. Their responsibilities are to drive the long-term sustainability performance of the airport, monitoring and reviewing progress against these goals.

The airport sustainability manager seeks to reduce overall operating costs, energy consumption, and emissions of GHGs and air contaminating particles. While aircraft-associated activity represents the greatest proportion of an airport’s emissions, those associated with the airport fleet are also important areas for the sustainability manager to address.

Responsibilities of an Airport Fleet Manager

The airport fleet manager oversees a diverse portfolio of vehicles including cars, trucks, motorcycles, cranes, heavy equipment, aircraft rescue, and firefighting vehicles. They are responsible for managing these vehicles across their operational life cycles from procurement, through maintenance, to end of life, to reduce their overall operating costs and improve ROI.

A key element of the role is ‘right-sizing’ the fleet based upon their duty specifications, service delivery needs and vehicle use patterns. This involves monitoring the operating budget and fleet management programs, including vehicle telematics.

How to Work Together Successfully with the Fleet Manager

In airports with progressive sustainability agendas, the objectives of the sustainability manager and fleet manager can be well aligned, and in most airports, there is some level of crossover between the objectives of the two roles with regards to the fleet. For more information, read our article that provides insight on how sustainability managers can work effectively with fleet managers to green their fleets.

Airplanes and passenger gateways at the airport

Strategy to Reduce Ground Vehicle Emissions

  • Take a Harder Line on EV Adoption
    • Transitioning suitable vehicles to electric within your airport fleet is the surest way to significantly reduce their emissions of NOx and other GHGs
  • Complete an EVSA
    • FleetCarma’s Electric Vehicle Suitability Assessment (EVSA) is the only solution that allows you to accurately forecast fleet performance before EV deployment
  • Replace ICE Vehicles
    • The deployment of EVs to replace ICE vehicles reduces NOx emissions, improving the local air quality
  • Short Distances Travelled
    • Electric vehicles are well suited to busy airport operations, where daily mileages are low and the duty cycle is very stop-start
  • Build a Charging Infrastructure
    • A limited charging infrastructure will stall the growth of EV adoption by all fleets operating in the airport
  • Encourage Contract Companies to use EVs
    • Influence the greening of fleets operated by contract companies such as taxis, car rentals, public transport operators and cargo haulers

Benefits of Greening Your Airport Fleet

  • Improved Customer Perception
    • Taking steps to meet your airport’s sustainability goals by electrifying your fleet doesn’t just make good operational and environmental sense. It’s also good branding
  • Improved Staff Welfare
    • Transitioning your fleet to electric will improve air quality for airport staff, particularly those that work airside


It’s clear that electrifying your airport fleet can help you to meet your sustainability goals, but don’t risk wasting time and money by investing in the wrong vehicles. By completing an EVSA, you can be confident that the deployments you make will deliver positive ROI before you make the purchase. With asking the right questions, and having the right strategy in place, electrifying your airport fleet can be painless and get you closer to meeting your goals.

If you would like more information on this topic, download our guide “How Airports Can Meet Their Sustainability Goals by Electrifying Their Fleets.

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