Monday, January 24

Environmentalists are wary of rising demand for private jets after the shutdown

Demand for private jets is increasing in Europe after a brief dip during the COVID-19 pandemic, prompting warnings that flying privately is far worse for the environment than taking a commercial flight.

The European Federation for Transport and Environment (T&E), which campaigns for clean travel, says that private jets are 10 times more carbon intensive than airlines on average and 50 times more polluting than trains.

A four-hour private jet emits as much CO2 as the average person in an entire year, he says.

“Flying in a private jet is probably the worst thing you can do for the environment. And yet the super-rich polluters fly like there’s no climate crisis, “said Andrew Murphy, T&E director of aviation.

The demand for private jet travel in Europe

Demand for the high-CO2 travel option has increased, with a 31% increase in emissions from European private jets between 2005 and 2019.

There was a drop in flights when the global pandemic hit in early 2020, and the average daily number of European flights in business aviation, including owned and leased private jets, dropped to 521 in April.

But in August 2020, there was a return to an average of 2,133 daily flights across Europe, and private jet use was at levels almost pre-COVID in April this year, T&E revealed.

Routes between the UK, France, Switzerland and Italy account for the majority of carbon pollution, and private jets departing from the UK and France account for more than a third of all emissions from private flights in Europe.

Private jets, charter flights offer socially distanced travel.

In the UK, investigations into private jets and charter flights are increasing, operators say.

“With the impact of business travel and the opportunity to travel commercially, commercial aviation has provided that opportunity for London, Farnborough and the South East to connect from an economic perspective. […] with partners in Europe, ”said Dominic Osbourne, FBO Director for Farnborough Airport.

Gareth Cadwell, commercial director of aircraft management and charter company Voluxis, says that when borders were closed in early 2020, people needed options.

“This past summer, from the UK arrivals and departures, it was really very busy because the airlines didn’t have the routes, the frequencies or the capacity at all, but people still needed, or really wanted, to fly,” he said.

So what is the solution?

T&E suggests that to alleviate the damage from private emissions, the sector should expand its use of green fuels and tax those who don’t.

“Short jumps are prime targets to be replaced by clean technologies like electric and hydrogen planes. European policy makers must urgently start taxing fossil fuel-powered private jets and ban their use by 2030.

“The income earned from the super-rich could be invested in greener technology that could clean up the flight for everyone.”

Some commercial airlines such as Air-France-KLM are already embracing technological innovations in biofuels. It made its first long-haul flight from Paris to Montreal powered by sustainable jet fuel, gasoline blended with synthetic jet fuel from cooking oil waste, on May 18. A start on your journey to committing to making 5% of your fuel sustainable by 2030.

However, environmental organizations have raised concerns that airlines are not making enough of a dent in global emissions just by adding a small amount of agrofuel or biofuel.

Agathe Bounfour of the Climate Action Network in France said: “We need a drop in air traffic to meet climate targets.”

T&E also notes that private jets are currently untaxed in most European countries due to exemptions from the EU’s carbon pricing scheme and duty-free kerosene.

But a jet fuel tax applied proportionally to flight distances could raise € 325 million if applied to all flights leaving the EU and the UK, providing revenue to accelerate the decarbonisation of the aviation sector.

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