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Emissions

Private jets are the highest emission method of travel apart from space travel. On average, at Farnborough Airport, there are only 2.5 passengers per plane and 40% of aircraft fly empty.

Emissions from different modes of transport.jpg

That means that per passenger mile, private jet passengers are 20 – 40 times more polluting than a passenger doing the same journey on a commercial flight. Given that 95% of routes flown from Farnborough are serviced by commercial aircraft, this is an unacceptable and massive impact on the environment by a very small number of very wealthy people. It is estimate that only 2,000 people use the airport per year so the environmental harm is concentrated into a very, very, small number of people. Perhaps more than any other report in the past few years, this article in “The Art Newspaperhighlights the discrepancy with what the private jet industry wants the public to believe vs reality.

 

Everyone is aware of climate change now. The UK is legally committed to achieve Net Zero by 2050 and to reduce aviation emissions by 50% by 2030. It is impossible to see how private jets can be used so much by so few people while every other part of society will have to make significant changes to achieve the necessary carbon reduction targets. The industry makes many bogus claims about Sustainable Aviation Fuel, electric aircraft and hydrogen aircraft but these are unicorn solutions that are an excuse not to do anything about aircraft emissions. What is most infuriating is that while everyone else pays tax on fuel to heat their homes and to use their cars, private jet passengers generally pay no tax on the fuel they consume.

Aviation capacity forecast

The government target is to reduce aviation emissions by 50% by 2030 and to net zero by 2050. However, the global aviation sector is forecasting a doubling of aircraft in 20 years and the UK government is planning to double aviation capacity by 2030. The aviation industry’s objectives are incompatible with the government’s climate commitments.

The aviation industry is pinning its hopes on undeveloped and unavailable carbon reduction technologies (SAF, Electric/Hydrogen aircraft, carbon capture). But even then, it is planning aviation growth far beyond the capabilities of those technologies. At the very same time, the IPCC is warning that aviation’s emission need to halve by 2030. It doesn’t take much thought to see that the ONLY way to reduce the risk of significant climate change impact is to reduce the amount of aircraft flying. Air travel is going to get more expensive for everyone and since private jets service just a tiny fraction of the wealthiest part of the population, but cause the most emissions, they need to pay their fair share. 

UK aviation carbon emissions

Farnborough Airport wishes you to believe that the airport’s flight operations support a significant workforce (it is actually only 197 jobs and most are unskilled in cleaning, catering and security) and it generates a lot of income (50% of its revenue is from fuel sales that little tax is paid on). It recognises the environmental harm of private jets but justifies the emissions with the support private jets provide to the UK economy (businessmen doing deals / running businesses that generate tax revenue). The problem is that most people using the airport are flying for leisure. Skiing in winter and to yachts or second (or third….) homes in summer in the Mediterranean. Unless of course you believe that the big deals are being done in Palma, Bodrum, Ibiza and Olbia in July.

 

An analysis of destinations in Possible’s report Jetting Away With It shows where Farnborough passengers are flying to and when. The airport is only licenced for “business travel” so cutting out this leisure travel would reduce emissions, reduce noise disturbance to the public, ensure the airport is compliant with its licence and not reduce the ability of businessmen to do business.

Ski flights graph
Graph of summer flights to the Mediterranean
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