Which Airline Is Best—and Worst—for Noise and Pollution?

Israel's El Al
The tail of an El Al Israel Airlines' Boeing 777-258 on the tarmac at the Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv, Israel, on July 19, 2016. Jack Guez/AFP/Getty

U.K. airline British Airways ranked the best on noise and fuel pollution levels, and Israel's El Al ranked the worst. That's according to a new list by London's Heathrow Airport aimed at naming and shaming airlines in the hope they will improve their environmental standards.

Israel's national carrier came last in the list of 50 global airlines created by analysts at Heathrow, the busiest airport in Europe. El Al failed to receive satisfactory scores in five out of seven categories on which Heathrow assessed the airlines. Those included arrival times, efficient landing approaches, nitrogen oxide emissions, and noise pollution.

The other airlines in the bottom six were mostly made up of carriers from the Middle East. Just ahead of El Al are Kuwait Airways, followed by Middle East Airlines, Oman Air, Jet Airways and Pakistan International Airlines, ranking upward from worst.

Reacting to the table's results, El Al said it inaugurated its new 787 Dreamliner aircraft this week. It will be a more environmentally friendly aircraft, according to Israeli news site Ynet.

"These aircraft, which will gradually enter service until 2020, will replace by early 2019 the 747-400 fleet," the company said in a statement. "The Dreamliner aircraft will join the new 737-900 aircraft the company has purchased, which are already operating on European routes, making the El Al plane fleet younger and less polluting."

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The list, the Fly Quiet and Clean League Table, hopes to inspire changes on the part of airlines that do not meet the standards of Heathrow Airport, the third-busiest aviation hub in the world.

British Airways' lead ranking is followed by Aer Lingus, Etihad Airways, Scandinavian Airlines System, Finnair and American Airlines.

Twenty-four of the 50 airlines failed in at least one category.

El Al flies out of Heathrow Airport twice a day to Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport. It typically uses Boeing jets for its flights, the 777 in the day and the 737 model at night, according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

While its environmental standards are not the envy of its competitors, its security measures are: El Al passengers are interviewed before even stepping on board any plane heading to Israel. It also has two plainclothes, armed sky marshals who sit among the passengers on board every flight. All of its pilots served in the Israeli Air Force. So while the planes' environment might not be up to standards, the airline ensures its security is.

The full league table of airlines, as ranked by Heathrow Airport:

1) British Airways, short haul

2) Aer Lingus

3) Etihad Airways

4) Scandinavian Airlines System

5) Finnair

6) American Airlines

7) United Airlines

8) Emirates

9) Delta Air Lines

10) Iberia

11) Qantas Airways

12) Air Malta

13) KLM Royal Dutch Airlines

14) Air Canada

15) Aegean Airlines

16) TAP Portugal

17) Cathay Pacific Airways

18) LOT

19) British Airways, long haul

20) Virgin Atlantic Airways

21) Qatar Airways

22) Air France

23) Malaysia Airlines

24) Swiss International Airlines

25) Sri Lankan Airlines

26) South African Airlines

27) Alitalia

28) Gulf Air

29) Lufthansa

30) Germanwings

31) Thai Airways

32) Saudi Arabian Airlines

33) Singapore Airlines

34) European Air Transport

35) Eurowings

36) Austrian Airlines

37) Aeroflot

38) Croatia Airlines

39) Icelandair - short haul

40) Brussels Airlines

41) Air China

42) Air India

43) Turkish Airlines, short haul

44) Turkish Airlines, long haul

45) Jet Airways

46) Oman Air

47) Pakistan International Airlines

48) Middle East Airlines

49) Kuwait Airways

50) El Al