EasyJet slams EU environmental plan

EasyJet has criticised the European Parliament for voting to ask the European Commission to introduce environmental performance measures for the air industry. easyJet is welcoming the debate on aviation and the environment and the proposed inclusion of aviation in the existing EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) - an initiative easyJet has been supporting since 2003.

However, the European Parliament called on the European Commission to introduce a package of punitive measures which would do nothing to encourage better environmental performance of airlines, but focuses instead on a punitive design of the ETS and on additional taxes. However, taxes would simply create revenue for the government but do nothing to help the environment.

Low-fares airlines such as easyJet are designed for efficiency and as such they are part of the solution, not part of the problem. easyJet and other young airlines have invested billions of pounds in the latest technology. With an average age of only 2.2 years, our fleet is the most modern of the major airlines in Europe. The airline only operates point-to-point services instead of connecting flights, which considerably lowers the number of take-offs and landings. Moreover, we use less congested airports and fly with the highest seat density and the highest load factors. Those concerned about the environment should be flying with low-cost airlines - not avoiding them.


Andy Harrison, easyJet Chief Executive, commented on the European Parliament’s vote: 



“easyJet regrets that such a large number of MEPs followed the Green’s simple but destructive strategy of “clipping the airlines’ wings” by ending affordable air travel. Instead of addressing obvious but politically contentious issues such as inefficient air traffic management and state aid for ailing national airlines, MEPs went for a headline-grabbing bashing of one of Europe’s most successful industries.


“The proposed measures would not only be to the detriment of consumers, but would have a severe negative impact on overall European competitiveness and are in stark contrast with the EU’s key objective of promoting economic growth and employment. Let’s step back form the hysteria for a moment and look at the facts. Aviation is responsible for a mere 3% of EU CO2 emissions, but accounts for 8% of EU GDP. Our sector brings higher economic value per tonne CO2 emitted than any other industry.


“Nevertheless, like any other energy-consuming economic activity, aviation needs to become as efficient as possible. To this end, easyJet proposes a three-point strategy that focuses on the inclusion of aviation in the EU’s existing emission trading scheme, the reform of Europe’s inefficient air traffic management scheme and the ending of state aid given to ailing airlines that operate old, half empty aircraft.


“easyJet will continue to fight against any attempt to put an end to affordable air travel and will do everything to keep fares low.”


easyJet three-point strategy on the environment


1) Aviation should be included in the existing EU Emission Trading Scheme, which was set up as a market-based mechanism to implement the Kyoto Protocol. easyJet was the first airline to support this approach in 2003. The idea is that emissions are traded between different companies and sectors, so that savings are made where it is most economical.


2) It is high time that the 19th-century style air traffic management in Europe is fundamentally reformed. Airlines are faced with over 30 local air traffic control providers, a patchwork of dog-legs that renders it impossible to fly the most direct paths between two airports.  It is estimated that 12% of kerosene (and CO2 emissions) could be saved by optimising air traffic control in Europe. Unfortunately some national governments still block any substantial progress in this area.


3) The EU must stop turning a blind eye to the increasing direct and indirect subsidies given to national airlines.  These subsidies prevent a consolidation of the sector and allow flag carriers to operate uneconomical routes with old, polluting, half-empty aircraft.


easyJet will continue to work constructively with national and European policy-makers to advance this strategy, which would improve the environmental efficiency of the sector without endangering its economic and social benefits.