easyJet campaign targets UK politicians

easyJet has launched a major campaign to encourage the UK’s politicians to
adopt a more ‘intelligent’ approach to air travel.The airline has publishes a comprehensive report into aviation’s contribution to
climate change; kicks-off a major national newspaper advertising campaign; unveils
its own tax proposals and announces that it already covers its “full environmental
costs” more than four times over.

To reach consumers, that have been mostly silent in the recent debate, easyJet will
be taking out full-colour full-page advertising in selected national newspapers
throughout the Party Conference season and passengers on easyJet aircraft will see
environmental messages on the backs of aircraft seats from early October.

 

Entitled “Towards greener skies: the surprising truth about flying and the
environment” the easyJet report provides a comprehensive analysis of the science of
climate change and includes a number of little known realities about flying.

 

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*      Aviation CO2 accounts for about 1.6% of global greenhouse gases
*      Today’s aircraft are typically 70% cleaner and 75% quieter than their 1960s
counterparts
*      Successive improvements in aviation technology could make flying 50% cleaner than
today’s aircraft within 10 years and 75% cleaner by 2050
*      easyJet passengers produce 95.7g of CO2 per kilometre: which is:

      *      less than the average family car (around 160g CO2 per kilometre)
      *      less than Virgin’s Voyager trains (112g of CO2 per passenger kilometre)
      *      less than the Toyota Prius (104g of CO2 per passenger kilometre)

*      Low-cost airline growth is not “out of control” - rather they have substituted for
less environmentally-efficient airlines over the last 10 years and the average rate
of growth is broadly unchanged over the last 20 years at 5.5%
*      High-speed rail is only a realistic option for those living in or around London.
Only two of easyJet’s 338 routes compete with high-speed rail services (London Luton
to Paris and London Stansted to Newcastle)

 

The report calls on politicians to take a more intelligent approach to aviation -
particularly taxation instruments. It finds that:

 

*      The UK already taxes aviation more heavily than any other European country.
*      The UK already taxes aviation more heavily than any other comparable form of
transport
*      Air Passenger Duty nets around £2.4 billion for the taxman annually yet:

      *      It does not reflect the emissions of a flight
      *      Approximately 40% of UK aviation activity is exempt (freight, private jets and
transfer passengers) - APD taxes families, but not private jets
      *      APD is flat rate so a passenger going to Marrakech pays the same as one going to
Melbourne
      *      The UK government does not hypothecate the receipts to scientific research or to
airport infrastructure costs
      *      Individual passengers pay the same whether they chose to fly on a clean aircraft or a dirty aircraft

 

easyJet recommends the scrapping of APD and replacing it with a tax based upon
aircraft types and distance travelled. This would mean that, for the first time, all
UK aviation would be included and airlines would be incentivised to operate the most
environmentally-efficient aircraft.

 

Successive Government reports have called on flying to “cover its full environmental
costs” - as if to imply that it doesn’t already. Carbon currently costs around £12
per tonne on the world markets but the UK Government estimates that the “social cost
of carbon” is around £95 per tonne. Using this figure easyJet covers its full
environmental costs four times and on some routes, such as Liverpool to Belfast, 12
times.

 

In recent years the growth of low-cost airlines flying point-to-point services has
significantly increased the accessibility of the UK regions for business and
tourism. But domestic routes have been the hardest hit by the doubling of Air
Passenger Duty in February 2007 and would be the most vulnerable to any further rise
in tax.

 

It is time for consumers to demand that politicians take a more intelligent approach
to balancing aviation’s vast social and economic contribution with its impact on
climate change. According to the UK Government, the aviation industry provides
around 200,000 jobs directly and many more indirectly and contributes around £11
billion directly to the economy.

 

Andy Harrison, easyJet Chief Executive, said:

 

“There is no doubt that climate change is a real and imminent danger which should be
a concern for us all. Together we must take intelligent and well thought-out actions
to ensure we leave the planet in a good shape for generations to come. As such, it
is important that mechanisms are put in place to ensure the aviation industry
develops in a way that is environmentally and economically sustainable and to ensure
that measures for aviation are proportionate with its impact on climate change.

 

“However, much of the recent political debate has been characterised by gesture
politics and discriminatory, often contradictory proposals and it is time for
consumers to tell the politicians they won’t be “green-rollered” into accepting
higher air taxes for spurious green rationale.

 

Politicians of all colours recognise that different cars have different emissions
but do not see the same distinction within air travel. We are an island nation in a
globalised economy yet the UK already taxes flying more heavily than any other
European country while making high-speed rail available only to those living in the
South East.

 

“Taxing families but not private jets is a grotesque insult. The time has come to
scrap Air Passenger Duty in its current form and replace it with a “polluter tax”
that has at its heart a very simple notion - those that fly on airlines that pollute
less, like easyJet, should pay less.

 

“We should all demand a more intelligent approach to flying. Politicians must
incentivise consumers to take the greener option when it is available - this means
banning the dirty, old aircraft from our skies; getting the right tax regime in
place to reward cleaner behaviour; being realistic about the value of aviation and
resisting the temptation to advocate alternatives when no such alternatives exist.”


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