Editor’s Comment – Flygskam – is it coming our way?

LARA editor Glenn Sands provides a summary of the latest happenings across the low-fare airline and regional aviation industry.

Concerns over the impacts of climate change are leading many people to rethink the way they travel – particularly how far and how often they take to the skies. The Swedes have even come up with a name for this – Flygskam or flight shame.

In part it has been triggered by Swedish teen activist, Greta Thunberg, who boycotted school once a week to raise awareness of climate change and then initiated the series of student climate strikes that swept Europe.

Her actions obviously touched a nerve with the Swedes who have chosen to swap taking the plane for taking the train. And ‘flygskam’ has also spread to other nations. Finland call it ‘lentohapea’, the Dutch call it ‘vliegschaamte’ and the Germans prefer ‘flugscham’ – but all refer to that sense of shame around flying due to environmental impacts.

Other nations have yet to follow suit but the recent demonstration in central London by protest group Extinction Rebellion, and their threat to disrupt Heathrow and Gatwick airports during the busy Easter weekend, indicate the UK could develop ‘flygskam’. Fortunately, the airport disruptions did not occur but the threats put air travel in the spotlight.

Commercial aviation has long been an easy target for protestors and environmentalists. Many have not recognised the developments and lengths manufacturers and operators are taking to become more environmentally friendly, without being bullied by outside influences. There’s no simple quick fix to reduce aircraft CO2 emissions overnight, but the technology to help do this is under development and will likely enter regular service with small regional carriers first. It may well be that the lessors or low-fare operators lead the way for the ‘big-boys’.

While some individuals are choosing to fly on a regular basis, for others there is little option. The time when we can travel in a Star Trek-like fashion is a long way off. Until then, commercial aviation is one industry that is leading the way in developing technology that means lower emissions – and it is spending millions doing it.

And for the protestors who promote ‘flygskam’ – there is one last burning question. If they’re heading overseas for a break during the holiday season, how are they getting to their destination?


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