Business aviation leaders are decrying a call by certain UK political leaders to ban business jets from UK airports and encourage electric technologies as a means to address climate concerns.
Andy McDonald, shadow transport secretary for the British Labour Party, this week backed such restrictions in a statement asking, “Why is the government enabling billionaires to trash the climate when it’s the rest of us who will suffer the consequences?” and then adding, “Climate targets cannot be met without curbing pollution from air travel, and a passenger on a private jet produces 10 times the emissions of someone on a regular flight. This simply cannot be ignored.”
McDonald added that electric advancements will be possible in a few years' time—as long as governments put in the proper “incentives”—and also said the Labour Party would examine proposals closely and consult with industry on a phaseout of the use of fossil fuels.
In a joint statement, NBAA and the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC) charged such proposals disproportionately target a single transportation segment, even as the industry has made an aggressive push toward sustainable aviation fuels that can reduce carbon lifecycle emissions by 80 percent.
“Even though business aviation accounts for only a minuscule portion of transportation emissions, the industry is pressing ahead on SAF,” said IBAC director general Kurt Edwards. “Instead of singling out business aviation for prohibitive restrictions on airport access, UK leaders should focus on efforts to make SAF more widely available in the UK through positive incentive policies to encourage production and use of SAF in greater quantities.”
“Business aviation has continually led the way in promoting products, procedures, and policies to reduce aircraft emissions, with proven results,” added NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen. “We urge leaders in the UK and elsewhere to set aside punitive proposals like this one, and work with us to build upon the significant progress made to date.”
The business aviation leaders pointed to decades of investment in technologies to improve the environmental footprint, such as the use of composites, winglets, and satellite-based avionics. Over the course of four decades, business aviation carbon emissions have been reduced by 40 percent, they said.
Business aviation further has committed to continue this path, cutting overall emissions over 2005 levels by 50 percent by the year 2050, they added.
“At a time when leadership is needed on sustainability, the proposed ban lacks meaningful value. It will have a de minimis impact on emissions overall while denying connectivity for London and hindering competitiveness for companies of all sizes in the region and beyond,” Edwards said.
The European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) also objected to the proposals, agreeing that they would do little to curb climate change. EBAA added in a statement, “Air traffic is an international business, meaning unilateral, isolated solutions make little sense.”
EBAA instead called for a more achievable and holistic approach. “Business aviation serves a legitimate, and important, societal purpose: we connect communities, enable secure travel, improve business productivity and opportunities, and link markets in an increasingly globalized world when time matters most and no alternative is available,” the association said. “Nonetheless these benefits come with an environmental cost, and business aviation must balance them with a responsibility to mitigate climate change.”
The association reiterated the business aviation community’s commitment to sustainability efforts, saying they complement the first global climate mitigation scheme—CORSIA. Further, European governments should focus on more concrete actions to support European operators and sustainability efforts, including the delivery of the Single European Sky and the development of policies to support the production and delivery of sustainable aviation fuels.
The Labour Party's focus on business jet use follows the attention recently given to one of Britain’s most famous couples—Prince Harry and Meghan Markle—for their private jet use.