Holiday makers jetting off this summer on a charter
flight will have a carbon footprint up to half the size of fellow sun
seekers flying on scheduled carriers.Analysis by Ascend reveals that for family of
four flying to any one of a range of popular holiday destinations opting
for a charter can dramatically reduce the damage they do to the
For holiday makers around the world, flying offers the benefits of
convenience and speed, as well as allowing for an unparalleled cultural
exchange. But there are costs, too. The Ascend study acknowledges the
negative environmental effects of flying, but shows that concerned
consumers who want to fly can make choices that seriously reduce the size
of their carbon footprint.
Ascend analysts dug into the data to demonstrate how a ‘typical’ UK family
could reduce its carbon footprint - even if flying. They compared the
environmental cost for the family flying to three popular summer holiday
destinations - by charter, by scheduled flight, and by private jet, and
- Flying to Goa from London on a charter flight, rather than a scheduled
carrier, a family of four cut their share of emissions by more than half.
- Flying from Manchester to Orlando the difference is more than a quarter
lower for a charter flight.
- On short-haul flights, the family’s share of emissions is reduced
considerably by flying charter rather than on a scheduled flight. For the
London to Malaga route, the reduction is almost 10%.
Like charters, low-cost carriers prove more carbon efficient per passenger
than their full service counterparts. Ascend’s comparison, made only on the
short-haul London to Malaga route, showed that the low cost airline could
slightly outperform even a charter, with the family’s share of fuel 17.6
kilograms on the low cost flight versus 18.8 kilograms on the charter.
“This is great news for families who care about the environment,” says
Gehan Talwatte, Managing Director of Ascend. “Not only does flying on
charter airlines or low cost carriers typically save families money, it
also means they contribute less to the problem of carbon emissions. What
many people may not realise is that on short or long-haul flights the
reduction in environmental impact of choosing a budget flight can be
dramatic. Charter operators, for example, typically create efficiencies by
squeezing more people onto each flight as many as 100 more than on a
comparably sized plane with a scheduled flight.
“What’s more, these figures don’t take into account passenger load factors.
If they did the carbon footprints for scheduled flights would be even
higher as their flights are very often not full.”
According to Ascend , as pressure comes on airlines to pay tax on aviation
fuel, consumers stand to benefit even more by flying on the most efficient,
least environmentally damaging routes.
“This is likely to mean flying point-to-point on long-haul flights, which
as our figures for the London to Goa route show is easier on the
environment than are the hub-and-spoke networks being developed by some
major carriers,” says Talwatte.
Aircraft manufacturers have so far taken very different views of how the
industry will develop. Airbus is betting on the A380, which is designed to
service hub-and-spoke networks but is also licensed to carry up to 853
passengers. In contrast, Boeing is backing the proliferation of
point-to-point flying with the development of the mid-sized 787
Ascend’s analysis also shows the real cost of private flights. On long-haul
flights on a business jet the carbon footprint of a family of four is
around 10 times larger than if they had flown on a charter flight, and
around five times larger on short-haul flights.
“You play you pay,” says, Talwatte. “Private flights may produce the least
amount of emissions, but per passenger they are hugely inefficient in