Air Travel and Consumerism News
Below are links to stories relating to air travel and consumerism.
European Environment Agency: Reducing CO2 emissions from aviation ‘requires systemic change’ to cut demand
The EEA (European Environment Agency) says reducing CO2 emissions from Europe’s aviation and shipping industries requires systemic change, rather than simply improving efficiency. In a new report they say a massive shift in innovation, consumer behaviour and the take up of more ambitious green technologies to power aircraft and cargo ships are crucial. Both aviation and shipping have grown fast in recent years, and by 2050, the two are anticipated to contribute almost 40% of global CO2 emissions unless further mitigation is taken. Incremental small improvements in fuel efficiency will not be enough. For air travel, changes in lifestyle and culture are needed eg. more shift to rail and less demand for material imported material goods. Governments have a key role to play. The role of continuing subsidies to the aviation industry is important in maintaining high demand for air travel. There needs to be a change to the "attitude-action gap" whereby expressed "environmental awareness by individuals does not translate into reductions in flight demand." ... " there will be a need for wider conversations around the types of lifestyle that will help enable sustainable mobility". They are not convinced aviation biofuels will be anything more than minimal.
For the love of Earth, stop travelling by plane – one of the best ways to cut our carbon footprint
Author Jack Miles, writing in the Washington Post, says we should cut down the amount we fly. He is writing as an American, and Americans fly a great deal - the country is huge, so many flights are domestic. Jack says: "According to ... Christiana Figueres, we have only three years left in which to “bend the emissions curve downward” and forestall a terrifying cascade of climate-related catastrophes." ... "Staying home, in fact, is the essence of making a big difference in a big hurry. That’s because nothing that we do pumps carbon dioxide into the atmosphere faster than air travel." ... "There are 7 billion people on our planet, but the billion with the largest carbon footprint includes the most frequent fliers. I belong to the top billion. So do many of you." ... "So for the love of the Earth, our common home, our only home, start conducting more remote work meetings and training sessions virtually. Inform those jet-setting friends that you won’t attend their destination wedding in the tropics — you’ll send a gift in the mail. Tell that conference organizer that while you’re honored to be invited, you would prefer to participate in live online sessions instead. Start taking vacations by train or car, rather than flying to Paris or beyond. Explain to your ecological public interest group that the Galápagos will be much better off without you. "
Ever increasing numbers of city-breaks and short holidays ruining cities – and the climate
With rising affluence in much of the world, and flying being unrealistically cheap (as it pays no fuel duty, and almost no other taxes) people want as many short holidays and city breaks as they can get. This is starting to have very negative impacts on some of the cities most visited, eg. Barcelona. Growth is relentless. The UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) even speaks about tourism as a right for all citizens, and their forecasts suggest increases from 1 billion international travellers today, to 1.8 billion by 2030. But there is a huge price to pay in carbon emissions from all these trips and holidays, most of which is the flights. Short breaks therefore, pollute more per night than longer breaks. And you can fit more into your year. "The marketing department might prefer a Japanese tourist to Barcelona because on average they will spend €40 more than a French tourist – according to unpublished data from the Barcelona Tourist Board – but the carbon footprint we collectively pay for is not taken into account." People are being persuaded by advertising and marketing, and a change in ethos of society, to take more short holidays - not one longer one. A report in 2010 suggested that makes people the happiest. More trips = more carbon emissions.
Investigation reveals Heathrow airport staff are set targets to get passengers to spend money in shops
The Sun has used an undercover reporter to work as one of Heathrow's Passenger Ambassadors, whose job is to boost retail sales in the terminals. There is a Channel 4 Dispatches programme on this, also showing how airport passengers are getting a raw deal from changing money. In 2016 the airport made a record £612 million in retail income, which is rent from retailers and from car parking charges. This was up 7.7% compared to 2015, while aeronautical income remained unchanged at £1,699 million. Heathrow's retail division now makes up 22% of its revenues - £612 million out of £2,807 million. The 150 Passenger Ambassadors help travellers once they are through security, and are set strict targets about persuading them to visit shops and spend money. These are between £2,500 to £4,000 per day, and the most successful senior ambassadors claim to hit £10,000 per day. They are told: “The majority of the role will involve interacting with passengers, persuading them to shop if they had not planned to, or encouraging them to spend more by talking to them about offers and promotions across the Terminal….The average spend per passenger must go up as a result of your presence on the terminal floor.” The job description says: "A minute should not pass without a conversation with one or more passengers.”
“Virtual ecotourism” means people do not have to fly to see endangered wildlife
Many of us would love to go to exotic destinations and see wildlife. It will never be quite as good a glimpse as the remarkable programmes on wildlife on TV, where film makers can take months to get the shots. Ecotourism is beneficial to some areas, from money it brings in to the local economy, and demonstrating to local people that there is more commercial value in keeping wildlife alive than in killing it. However, it has its downsides, and even when ecotourism done sensitively it has drawbacks. These include the high carbon footprint, from flights; wildlife disturbance, potential for disease introduction, and development of roads and infrastructure which have a detrimental effect on wildlife. Also many people are unable to afford the high price of ecotourism, or are too old, young, or otherwise unable, or unwilling, to travel. Virtual Ecotourism (vEcotourism) can contribute to overcoming these problems by providing a way to experience a conservation site virtually, using many on-line technologies combined with a live, on-location tour guide. The Virtual Ecotourism website offers a number of "tours" which are 360 degree panoramas, from where the actual tourists go, showing what they see. This is a positive development meaning people do not have to fly across the world, just to see rare populations of animals.
Heathrow intent on getting kids (+ parents) into the habit of multiple plane-dependent holidays per year
Heathrow has been working on its PR by giving figures on how much parents spend on air travel and holidays (some exotic) for their children. They hope to give the impression to parents that they need to provide these luxuries to their children, as part of being good parents .... more consumerist pressure .... Heathrow says in 2016 an unbelievable 19% of children (presumably in the UK, or those passing through Heathrow?) took at least 7 trips trips per year; 5% go on more than 10 trips per year, taking into account family holidays, school trips and holidays with friends. And the "dream destinations" (ie. long haul ones that make more profit for airlines and Heathrow) for under 16 year olds were "Australia, Hawaii, Everest and Thailand". (Really? Everest? Is this a joke?) Heathrow says the average cost per trip for a child (those under 16 pay no Air Passenger Duty) is about £616 - and on average parents will spend about £30,000 for the holidays of their children, up to the age of 16. Heathrow says "The current generation of kids are dreaming of Bondi Beach, kangaroos and the Outback, with nearly a quarter (23%) of children citing far-flung Australia as their dream destination for 2017." And on it goes .... Heathrow's future customers. "Get 'em young" ... So THAT's why we need another Heathrow runway, with all its public expense and negative impacts over vast areas within perhaps 20 miles of the airport.
Advertising industry anticipating a bonanza of increased ad possibilities from expanded Heathrow
The advertising industry is salivating about the advertising opportunities it hopes will come from a new Heathrow terminal and runway. There are hopes for hugely more hoardings and outdoor adverts around the airport, as well as in terminals. By the time the expansion might take place, after 2026, "through vastly increased computing processing power and more easily accessible data sets, the opportunities available to airport advertisers will most likely be multi-sensory, integrated, ultra-targeted communications, far beyond what’s available today. Through this development, brands will find a way to be a seamless part of the traveller’s experience." ... "targeting will go beyond the airport as those travelling by coach to catch a flight could be served with ads for holiday insurance along the motorway."..."advertisers must also consider the unique mind-set of the airport traveller. Consumers are both enjoying down time away from the daily routine, and simultaneously anticipating the excitement of a departure. This unique state of mind, combined with dwell time, opens up opportunities for brands to offer key life moment purchases, for example a new car or mortgage." And yet more nauseating consumer stuff, generating more excess consumption in association with more air travel.
Airbus cabin of the future with fewer passengers, but with gym, spa, play area and coffee shop …
Airbus is producing plans for additions such as gyms, coffee bars, children’s play areas and a spa on its planes, instead of more seats. Their new concept that Airbus calls ‘Transpose’ would allow airlines to customise cabins for each flight using modular technology. Airlines could chop-and-change the interior setup in a matter of minutes in the project developed by an Airbus off-shoot called A³. The plan is to ..."enable entirely new categories of passenger experiences, making your time spent in the sky more interesting, personalized, and enjoyable." There could be a gym, with exercise bikes. "A major coffee chain could run a co-working cafe, providing artisanal beverages and a space for collaboration. An airline could design a kid-safe play zone ... where families can spend quality time together" ... and so on. Also there are new opportunities for advertising to get extra revenue. Now that ICAO has come up with the least ambitious scheme it could achieve for limiting the growth in global aviation CO2, airlines can have lower load factors and more space on planes that is not used to carry more passengers. If the industry was serious about lower CO2 (rather than just cost) per passenger, they would get planes to carry more people - not coffee bars and gyms. Is this Airbus etc effectively thumbing their nose at serious attempts to cut aviation CO2?
Heathrow retail revenue in 2015 around 20-21% of total, at £568 million (£7.58 per passenger)
Heathrow Airport reported a retail revenue increase for the year ending 31st December 2016 of +8.4% in 2015 to £568 million. The revenue per passenger rose by +6.2% above the level in 2014, to reach £7.58. (The Moodie report said the figure was about £7.14 in 2014, £6.21 in 2012, £5.95 in 2011, and £5.64 in 2010). Over the year, Heathrow had an overall growth in revenue of +2.7% to £2,765 million in 2015. EBITDA was £1,605 million, up +3.0%. Heathrow also announced a +2.2% increase in passenger traffic in 2015 to 75 million. Then for the figures for the first 6 months of 2016 Heathrow said its retail revenue had risen by 7.7% year-on-year, to £280 million - and retail revenue per passenger rose +7.1% to £7.84. Of this, duty and tax free shops contributed £62 million, a +3.3% increase. Heathrow said that for the first 6 months of 2016, it made £62 million from duty and tax-free; £51 million from airside specialist shops; £24 million from bureaux de change; £22 million from catering; £55 million from car parking - with total retail revenue at £280 million. i.e. of total retail revenue 19 - 20% was car parking. Income from parking was £99 million in 2014 and £107 million in 2015. For the first half of 2016 the retail (including car parking) income was about 21% of total revenue.
Gatwick income still around 22% from retail, 11.6% from parking, and 52% from aeronautical
Gatwick continues to get around 22 - 23% of its income from retail, as it has in previous years. Moodies' data shows that in the year that ended 31st March 2016 the airport reported a +2.3% increase in retail income to £152.5 million. But the net income per passenger decreased -3.7% to £3.67. Income per passenger from retail has stayed around the same figure as in 2011. Gatwick has added a great many retail shops in previous years (it now has 36 shops and 27 restaurants) and offers “collect on return.” Gatwick has done less well than it hoped on sales which it described as “challenging trading” due to "changes in passenger mix and adverse currency movements against Sterling." Income from food and drink and catering grew by around 2%. Car parking revenue for the year to 31st March 2016 was up +7.6% to £77.9 million and net income per passenger from parking increased by +7.3% to £1.47. So retail + parking is about £5.14 per passenger. Aeronautical revenue rose +5.4% to £350.8 million (so that is around £8.50 approx per passenger) and other income was up +9.7% to £91.9 million. Turnover increased +5.5% to £673.1 million while EBITDA was up +9.7% to £331.0 million. The airport made a profit before tax of £141.0 million.