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Which Airlines Are Most Fuel-Efficient?

A new study ranks the energy use of U.S. carriers

Airlines consistently search for ways to conserve jet fuel, the biggest cost and general worry across the industry. Yet the threat of higher energy costs may not be adequate to spur future fuel-efficiency gains among airlines, according to a study that ranks U.S. airlines by how efficiently they manage fuel burn.

Atop the ranking of 15 airlines for 2010 is Alaska Air Group, which flies mostly newer Boeing 737 jets and Bombardier Q400 turboprops at Horizon Air, its regional operation. The airline’s network also is largely composed of flights to and from its hubs in Seattle and Portland, Ore. That limits the “circuity” of its flying, one of the metrics in the ranking released Tuesday by the International Council on Clean Transportation, a nonprofit environmental consulting firm funded by Climate Works and the Hewlett Foundation.