AA, CO, Jetblue All Look Into Gas Savers
You'll soon be seeing A LOT more upswept wingtips at your local
airport. That's because more airlines are ordering the fuel-saving
devices... in spite of their expensive pricetag.
For example, USA Today reports it costs airlines $725,000 to
retrofit one set of Aviation Partners Boeing winglets to a 737...
and the bigger the plane, the greater the cost. It's not like many
airlines have that money just lying around, either... so why are
airlines willing to spend the dough?
Well, we said it before... winglets are FUEL-saving devices, and
can improve efficiency by as much as five percent. That may not
sound like a lot -- but since airlines expect to fly their planes a
lot in the next few years, and for fuel prices to keep rising, many
expect they'll see a return on their investment.
"I think [winglets] will start sprouting as fuel prices stay
high," says analyst Richard Aboulafia at the Teal Group.
Even manufacturers are getting into the winglet game, too --
with Boeing offering the devices as standard on its 747-400, and an
option on its 737NG models. Airbus also provides winglets
on newer models of its A330 and A340.
That strategy may even convince airlines to upgrade to the newer
planes... as the factory winglets aren't retrofittable to older
So far, the list of airliners on the winglet wagon include
American, JetBlue, and Continental. And, of course, there's
Southwest... which fueled winglet mania as early as 2003, when the
LCC began retrofitting winglets to its 737-700s.
Scott Topping, a Southwest executive, told USA Today the
airline's fuel savings from winglets will be $40 million to $50
million this year -- not exactly peanuts.