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The LEAP-X from CFM has advancements in air flow and temperature-resistant coatings that allow the air passing through the engine core to be at temperatures otherwise hot enough to melt the surrounding metal. Those higher temperatures allow the engine to be more efficient.

Airbus is redesigning its A320 jets to accommodate both engines and says its A320neo, which starts flying in 2016, will cut fuel consumption by 20 percent. Airbus has already received more than 1,000 orders and commitments for future orders.

Boeing plans to offer the new engines on a single-aisle jet but has yet to decide whether it will update the 737, its best-seller, to accommodate them or design a new plane.

Other ways airlines will save on fuel:

_ A satellite-based air traffic control system in the U.S., several years away, that could cut fuel consumption by 12 percent. Airlines and the government are fighting over who will pay for it. The current system is based on less precise World War II-era radar, which can force planes to zigzag miles out of their way.

_ Aerodynamic improvements to jets, including vertical extensions at the tip of each wing called “winglets” that prevent drag. They’ve been around for several years but are being deployed on a wider range of planes.

_ Carrying less weight inside the plane. American is replacing its 19,000 catering carts with models that weigh 16 pounds less. Southwest is testing seat covers made with lighter fabric. JetBlue chose thinner seats for its new A320s. Every pound removed from a plane saves 30 gallons of fuel a year.

_ Replacing older jets faster. American, which has the worst fuel economy among U.S. airlines, is replacing aging MD80s with 737s that use 35 percent less fuel per passenger.

Airlines are cutting costs in other areas as well.

Ten years ago, salaries and benefits accounted for 39 percent of industry expenses. Now they account for 28 percent. Several major airlines filed for bankruptcy and that allowed them to renegotiate labor contracts.

But with oil at $100 a barrel and expected to rise more in the years ahead, analysts say the long-term imperative for airlines is singular: they must dramatically cut their fuel consumption.

“Either they do it,” says Darryl Jenkins of the Aviation Consulting Group, “or they go out of business.”


Scott Mayerowitz can be reached at