It might at first glance sound a bit obvious, but the fact that The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is working on moves to make flights straighter and quicker is the product of considerable effort. The fuel-saving measures could make European routes a few minutes shorter and take over fifteen off a London to New York flight. Airlines are desperate to cut their fuel bills as they are pinched by the twin forces of increased oil prices and falling passenger numbers.
Traditionally airline routes have to skirt around patches of airspace reserved for military use. Under the proposed arrangements civilian air traffic will be permitted to share airspace with military aircraft, allowing more direct flying. The average European airline flight is 30 miles longer than strictly necessary in order to steer clear of military zones. France is a good case in point with four separate military areas. It is estimated that 5% of the total airspace in Europe is restricted in the way at certain times.
Aside from these efforts, on which negotiations continue, airlines are working to cut costs in other ways. BA has started to carry less tap water to save weight and therefore fuel. No sign of them dropping the boxes of duty-free nonsense that they cart about so far, though.