Airlines challenged on carbon impact


Holiday giant TUI Travel UK has urged other operators to make figures on airline emissions public.

The firm, which operates from Coventry Airport and is the parent company of Thomsonfly, made the call following a request from a committee of MPs for the development of an industrywide system of “ecolabelling” for flying.

They say consumers should be able to compare the environmental footprint of different airlines.

The Treasury committee said it was concerned airlines were “dragging their feet” over co-operating on environmental schemes, and the government should ensure the companies were covering their ecological costs ahead of their inclusion in the Europe- wideemissions trading scheme. It welcomed plans to switch from air passenger duty (APD) to a tax per plane, but criticised the government for taking a long time to do so.

Treasury committee chairman John McFall said: “Aircraft emissions are a fastgrowing component of the UK’s emissions yet the aviation industry seems to be doing little about the problem.

“Our proposals for an industry-wide eco-labelling scheme would at least provide customers with the environmental information they need to make a choice between providers.

“Air Passenger Duty is a very poorly-targeted tax, as it offers almost no incentive to airlines to improve their environmental record.

“Taxing flights rather than passengers makes a lot of sense from an environmental point of view, and the government needs to ensure that a replacement for APD offers the right incentives for investing in cleaner planes.”

A TUI Travel UK spokesperson said: “TUI Travel UK appreciates that consumers will increasingly wish to know the carbon impact of all their activities, including their holiday flights.

“For a number of years we have been measuring and publicly reporting our airlines’ emissions, making this information available for those customers wishing to identify more environmentally friendly airlines.

“We would welcome it if other airlines were also to make such information publicly available.

“Performance on CO2 emissions differs significantly by airline, with leisure airlines markedly more efficient than either scheduled or low-cost.

“The new APD tax, starting in 2009 could potentially be a type of eco-label in itself and a barometer the UK consumer can use to measure efficiency.”

Michelle Di Leo, director of pro-aviation body Flying Matters, said that since aviation globally accounted for just two per cent of carbon emissions, the UK’s policy to sustainably grow air transport was compatible with its targets to reduce CO2emissions.

She added: “Now we find the Treasury select committee singling out aviation for criticism despite this fact and simply ignoring the tough environmental targets to which the whole of the UK aviation industry has committed, including cutting CO2 emissionsof new aircraft by 50 per cent by 2020.

“That’s not feet-dragging, it’s environmental leadership.

“Public policy for aviation should seek to secure economic sustainability as well as environmental sustainability.”