All of the ten most polluting private jet routes are to or from Europe, and they are getting worse as the wealthy take to the skies in increasing numbers.
The most polluting route in 2019 was between London Luton Airport and Teterboro in New York, a trip that emitted 16,629 tons of CO2. The next two worst offenders were between Moscow and Nice, in France, and Paris and Teterboro.
In fact, one in ten flights that departed from France in 2019 is a private jet, according to Transport & Environment, a campaign group.
The fifth and sixth most polluting routes in 2019 were between two London airports and Nice, the gateway to the Côte d’Azur and one of the most popular vacation destinations for the wealthy. The four-hour flight between London and the south of France generates more emissions than the average person in a single year.
It is worrying that the most polluting private jet routes are among the richest countries in Europe. Seven of the 10 most polluting routes are on the UK-France-Switzerland-Italy axis.
“Flying in a private jet is probably the worst thing you can do for the environment,” says Andrew Murphy, director of aviation for Transport & Environment. “And yet the super rich super polluters are flying like there’s no climate crisis.”
The super-rich have also been flying as if there was no health crisis either. The study found that in August of last year, a time when commercial flights were down by 60% and much of Europe was still under Covid-19 restrictions, private jet traffic had returned to pre-plane levels. pandemic.
Last month, private jet travel in Europe was 8% ahead of last year in terms of traffic. There were 3,800 flights on private jets in April alone, according to WingX, which collects data on aviation.
Since regular airlines still fly 25% below their pre-pandemic levels, private jets are now often rented as a means of getting to a location that is no longer served by a regular flight.
But many private jet charter companies say they have acquired new customers during the pandemic and hope to retain them.
“Once you fly in private, it is very difficult to go back to first time or to business [class]”says Richard Tenison, a director of an asset manager who regularly flies privately for business.
You are not alone in your opinion, but you are increasingly a minority using a private jet for business. A survey by Private Jet Card Comparisons, a comparison website for private jet companies, found that nearly half of their subscribers used private jets to transport family members, and 45% used one to visit a second home. .
Flights to the south of France tend to peak during the summer months and some trips are for business purposes.
Given this renewed demand, it seems unlikely that private jet travel will decline. And that means more pollution.
The future of private jets
Murphy wants jet fuel-powered private jets to be taxed in Europe (they are currently exempt from the EU’s carbon pricing scheme) and then banned by 2030.
This, he believes, will encourage the industry to move toward electric or hybrid alternatives in the same way that the ban on combustion engines in cars has forced manufacturers to build electric or hybrid alternatives.
Progress has already been made in this direction. Since 2016, when Solar Impulse went around the world with a solar powered aircraft, the industry has started experimenting with a number of solutions.
Rolls Royce recently announced that it was building a fully electric prototype aircraft called ACCEL. Other aerospace companies are considering using synthetic fuels, which emit less CO2 than aviation fuels. Spike Aerospace is investigating how hydrogen fuel would work in its supersonic private jet.
Ultimately, this is an area that could pioneer private jet travel, Murphy believes: “The private jet market is ideal for helping achieve the Tesla of aviation.