Should Private Jets Be Banned?

Should Private Jets Be Banned?


The Common Wealth thinktank, which is closely linked to the Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has called for a ban on Private Jets in the U.K. by 2025.

The report outlines that in 2018 there were over 140,000 flights on private aircraft to or from U.K. airports, which accounted for 7% of the nation’s air traffic.

Private jet travel for business and pleasure – Private jet travel has soared in popularity this … [+] century around the world. (Photo by K. Y. Cheng/South China Morning Post via Getty Images)

South China Morning Post via Getty Images

With the growing focus of environmental change and groups including Extinction Rebellion along with individuals such as Greta Thunberg throwing the topic into the spotlight, never has so much attention been on our individual carbon footprint.

The term ‘Flygskam’ has seemingly gained popularity in Sweden which translates to “flight shame” and encourages individuals to take the train over a plane. This argument for shaming commercial flights has some strong arguments for both sides, as the aviation industry including major airports particularly in the U.K. are implementing strong measures to drastically reduce their carbon footprint over the next decade.

NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 23: Youth activist Greta Thunberg speaks at the Climate Action Summit at … [+] the United Nations on September 23, 2019 in New York City. While the United States will not be participating, China and about 70 other countries are expected to make announcements concerning climate change. The summit at the U.N. comes after a worldwide Youth Climate Strike on Friday, which saw millions of young people around the world demanding action to address the climate crisis. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)

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Commercial aviation accounts for just 2% of carbon emissions globally, and when that is compared to the fashion industry which contributes 8% of carbon emissions, of the food industry at 25%, there is a strong argument that blindly targeting commercial aviation which provides important global links is tarnishing flying machines with one brush.

The part of aviation which has a more murky reputation is indeed the private aviation sector. The UK report suggests that passengers flying private have a carbon footprint that is a staggering 10 times higher than that of commercial economy passengers, with many return legs flying empty.

France’s President Emmanuel Macron disembarks from a Dassault Aviation Falcon 8X jet during the … [+] International Paris Air Show in Le Bourget outside Paris on June 19, 2017.
Macron landed on June 19 at the Bourget airfield in an Airbus A400-M military transport plane to launch the aviation showcase, where the latest Boeing and Airbus passenger jets will vie for attention with a F-35 warplane, drones and other and high-tech hardware. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT (Photo credit should read CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT/AFP/Getty Images)

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Although the numbers are tough to argue with, the time-scale of the study’s proposed solution seems misguided in my opinion. A ban in just five years would aim to encourage the development of electric alternatives. Unfortunately, this just wouldn’t be feasible. What would perhaps be more realistic would be for the encouragement of more commercial flying. Higher taxes on private aviation will likely do little to dent its popularity, but with long-haul commercial First Class Seats offering, more often than not, a far more superior product than many Private Jets anyway, perhaps we should be asking why the short term alternative shouldn’t simply be pitched as flying commercial rather than private.

For decades the idea of electric or solar-powered commercial aircraft has been a pipe dream. And yet, we still wait. Expecting aircraft manufacturers to push products through in a mere five years is, unfortunately, blurring the argument in that flying Private is largely unnecessary regardless.

Hawker 800 business-jet taking-off with office-buildings behind. (Photo by: … [+] aviation-images.com/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Granted, there may be rare situations where scheduling a private jet would be unavoidable, but when looking at the numbers, the argument would have to be beyond compelling. A private jet flying from London to New York releases the equivalent amount of carbon emissions as driving a car for four and a half years without stopping!

The report is aiming to focus the wealthy on developing alternatives if there were to be a complete ban on Private Jets in the U.K. that produce CO2 emissions. Unfortunately, that is rarely how free-market economics works. As with the current climate crisis, it will require a major push from government and corporations to develop carbon-neutral aircraft, rather than from the consumer. Until actual alternatives are provided and developed, the most simple and current option will continue to be used. Therefore…

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