Private jets carry 2.7 passengers on average – Farnborough

16th  March 2009 (Get Hampshire)

by Pete Castle

Private jet passengers at Farnborough Airport cause more damage to the environment
than users of any form of transport except space travel, according to green campaigners.

The claim comes after the airport’s bosses revealed that each aircraft using
the airport has, on average, just two or three passengers on board.

Brandon O’Reilly, the chief executive of TAG Farnborough Airport, the company
that owns and operates the airfield, said that on a fairly typical day last week
there were just 2.7 passengers per flight, adding that the actual average figure
could be even lower.

TAG’s revelation has caused outrage among environmental groups.  Hugh Sheppard,
of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) said the figures had
revealed the “gross inefficiency” of private jets.

Mr Sheppard, who is chairman of the CPRE’s north-east Hampshire district, said
that users of business flights should pay for environmental damage, which at present
is only dealt with under a voluntary carbon offset scheme.

He said that at last week’s meeting of the Farnboruogh Aerodrome Consultative
Committee (FACC).   Mr O’Reilly had accepted that an average figure of 2.5 passengers
per aircraft using Farnbough was probably fair.

“This shows the gross inefficiency of business flights, particularly as business
flights encompass taxi services used for al manner of leisure and business users”,
he said.

“If we are interested in addressing climate change, one option might be to see
if efficiency could be improved in terms of load factor.   Were each plane to have
just one more person on board, this alone would reduce the present 28,000 movement
a year to around 20,000.”

Mr Sheppard said that only astronauts had a worse carbon-per-mile emisisons record
than users of private jets.

As well as consuming huge amounts of fuel, aviation is particularly damaging
to the environment because the gases are created high in the atmospher, scientists

Aviation causes around 6% of total carbon dioxide – the chief contributor to
man-made climate change.   Compared to other forms of travel, such as car, train
or bus, it emits the most carbon for every mile travelled per passenger.

A single round trip in a commercial airliner from London to Paris creates 0.13
tons of carbon dioxide per passenger, according to carbon dioxide per passenger,
according to carbon offsetting company Carbon Footprint.   The same journey by
train creates just 0.02 tons, less than a sixth of the aviation amount.

Research by the Aviation Environment Federation shows that business aviation
can cause around eight times as much carbon emissions per passenger than commercial

James Page, a Green Party activist who campaignerd against the expansion of weekend
flights at Farnborough, said business jets were “an appalling use of the Earth’s

“I am appalled at the figures.   It is worse than I thought,” he said.   “To talk
about increasing the number of flights when the government is committed to cutting
carbon emissions by 80% by 2050 is atrocious.”

Mr Page said that while TAG had dedicated five pages of its recent master plan
on the future of Farnborough Airport to “sustainability and climate change”, its
proposals had not identified the overwhileming cause of the problem – the amounts
of carbon emissions from private jets.

TAG’s proposals focus on ways of decreasing the carbn footprint of the airport
itself, rather than aircraft usig its runways. The company intends to build solar
panels, a combined heat and power generator, and wind turbine to decrease emissions.

TAG wants to make aircraft operators pay for emissoins of nitrous oxide, a dangerous
air pollutant. The company said the airport would aim to become “carbon neutral”
within ten years by working with aircraft operators although it did not specify
how it would do this.

Farnborough Airport may become the latest target of protest groups committed
to taking direct action against the aviation industry.   PLane Stupid said it could
not rule out action against TAG.

The group shut down Stansted Airport forseveral hours in December last year by
invading the runway.

Spokeswoman Wiz Baines said TAG’s proposal to increase flights at Farnborough
was “outrageous”.

“More and more peopole are concerned about climate change.   The impact on people’s
lives is potentially devastating”, she said.   “This is the elite end of the population
taking flights that are the most polluting.   There is no way they should be
expanding, given what is happening with climate change.

Improvements in technology meant more buisness meetings could now be held by
video link, she said.