So you’re used to reading about fuel consumption for cars, but what about planes? The pilot of the rather aging Boeing 747 on which I travelled from Hong Kong to Frankfurt proudly stated that he had 140 thousand litres of fuel on board. (I think that’s what he said). The distance is about 9200 km in a straight line (figure courtesy of Google of course) which makes it about 15 litres per km, or, in more familiar terms, 1500 litres per 100 km, or about 0.2 miles per gallon.

Compare that to my car, which will burn about 7 km per 100 km. That is, the 747 uses about the same amount of fuel as 200 cars making the same nine thousand kilometre journey. That said, it does carry close to 400 passengers – i.e. the same fuel consumption roughly as if everyone drove the same distance two to a car. Keep those oil wells pumping… that distance is only a quarter of the return distance from Auckland to Europe.