Virgin Atlantic To Test Clean-Air Strategy

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Virgin Atlantic is making good on recent promises from CEO Richard Branson to cut emissions of carbon dioxide. Driven by intense consumer concern about global warming in the U.K. and the rest of Europe, Branson has committed billions to research for new biofuels, but also said he'd work to cut consumption right away by reducing waste. The airline will carry out tests with its Boeing 747s throughout December at London Gatwick and Heathrow Airports. The idea is to create a holding area for airliners close to the runway that they can be towed to, so they don't use so much fuel taxiing from the gate and then holding on the taxiway. A longer, more detailed trial is then expected to take place in the first quarter of 2007. Teams from Virgin Atlantic are holding talks with airport officials at San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York JFK about similar trials. The changes should also reduce noise levels and result in "dramatically cleaner air on the ground," Virgin said.