The Internet is abuzz about the latest example of “eco- scandalous” airline behavior. An American Airlines flight from Chicago to London flew February 9 with only five passengers, using — reportedly — 22,000 gallons of Jet A. Why is this causing an uproar? The advocacy group Friends of the Earth considers it an “obscene waste of fuel” that raised each of the five travelers’ carbon footprints by “45 times.” Of course, there’s a sensible explanation for why the airline didn’t just scuttle the flight: “However, this would have left a plane load of west-bound passengers stranded in London Heathrow who were due to fly back to the US on the same aircraft. . . . We sought alternative flights for the west-bound passengers but heavy loads out of London that day meant that this was not possible.”
What is the environmentalists’ solution? “Governments must stop granting the aviation industry the unfair privileges that allow this to happen by taxing aviation fuel and including emissions from aviation in international agreements to tackle climate change.” These measures would have changed nothing about the total environmental impact of the February 9 flight. American needed the plane to be in London that day, emissions trading scheme or not, so it would just have to had bitten the bullet and to ponied up for its environmental impact. Emissions trading programs are meant to reduce the environmental impact of aviation systemically, not in one-off circumstances. It’s dishonest of Friends of the Earth not to acknowledge that their solutions would end up costing travelers more without ending these rare sorts of trips.
Plane flies five passengers from US to London [Telegraph]
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