Editor’s Comment: Rise of the green giant

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

The environmental impact of commercial aviation in terms of carbon output has been a regular news topic in the UK. But across the Channel in Europe the campaign to reduce the use of air transport has taken on far greater significance.

Germany, which has one of the most vocal green parties, is talking about banning domestic flights. This is a surprising turnaround as less than decade ago, the rise of the LCC into the German commercial aviation market was welcomed with open arms and favourable media coverage.

Now those same TV channels, and possibly the same journalists, are calling for a ban on non-essential domestic flying. The solution offered by the German Green party is for passengers to take the less polluting train to travel around the country. Germany’s train network is efficient, punctual and quick, but for the rest of Europe, particularly the UK, the rail services verges on chaos every day.

If the call to ban domestic flights in Germany gathers pace, will it shift to other countries in Europe? I very much doubt we’ll see any quick grounding of airline fleets in Germany, or rows of Airbus types lined up on the taxi way with nowhere to go.

Instead, there are calls for an increased tax on cheap flights. The Christian Social Union (CSU) in Bavaria, one of the most vocal political parties to call for an end to LCC’s in the country, intends to present its findings to a CSU conference this week. One proposal is an additional tax on any domestic flight that costs less than 50 euros.

Not wishing to play devil’s advocate, but Europe is perhaps the easiest continent in which to travel by train, unlike the rest of the world. And a train will take you directly to the city centre, whereas an airport is often miles outside the centre.

It’s an interesting debate and looks set to become more important due to the need to reduce our carbon footprint. For the airlines and aircraft manufacturers, the need to find an alternative source to power aircraft – whether electric or something else not yet disclosed to the public – needs to be sooner rather than later.

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