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AEF Newsletter: Questionable economic case for airport growth and night flights

25th October, 2021

Insufficient evidence of economic benefits of night flights

In September, AEF responded to Part 2 of the Government’s consultation on night flight restrictions and wider night noise policy. We highlighted the lack of evidence for the claims made by both the Government and the aviation industry about economic and consumer benefits of night flights. AEF commissioned a study from the New Economics Foundation which found that a report recently commissioned by industry to make the case for night flights failed to take into account critical economic disbenefits associated with noise, greenhouse gases and outbound tourism… read more

In September, it was also announced that the Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise (ICCAN) would be wound down at the end of that month. Its functions will be absorbed into the Civil Aviation Authority and Department for Transport. You can read more about these changes here, though full details are still awaited.

Government’s proposed measures to decarbonise aviation fall a long way short of challenge ahead (and so do industry’s)

September was a busy month for consultations. AEF’s response to the Government’s consultation on how to deliver net zero aviation by 2050 expressed concerns about the plan, which allows passenger numbers and airport capacity to continue growing, whilst holding out for technologies that may or may not come to fruition… read more

In October, IATA, which represents the world’s airlines, announced its commitment and plan to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. Similarly to the UK Government, the industry, which forecasts a huge rise in passenger numbers, is pinning its hopes on future technologies and fuels… read more

At least Scotland’s Minister for Transport Graeme Dey has addressed the elephant in one of the Government’s rooms: “Technology alone will not achieve the transformational change required,” he said at a Scottish Parliament debate following a new report on decarbonising the transport sector, highlighting the need for a significant reduction in demand for aviation in order to achieve Scotland’s climate ambitions.

Benefits from sustainable aviation fuels must not be over-claimed

In response to the Government consultation on Mandating the use of sustainable aviation fuels in the UK which also closed in September, we expressed our support for the introduction of a sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) mandate, as long as it delivers genuine emissions mitigation and does not distract from the need for other measures to be introduced in parallel… read more

Government may already be over-claiming the benefits of SAF, however, as it is proposing to count aviation biofuel as zero emissions under the UK’s emissions trading scheme. Eligible fuels must have at least a 50% reduction in emissions when compared to traditional jet fuel, yet irrespective of the actual emissions reduction achieved, aviation biofuels would be counted as achieving a 100% emissions reduction under this proposal… read more

Climate costs of airports treble, as airport expansion battles continue

Stansted Airport expansion gets the green light; the Southampton Airport legal challenge is refused; the inquiry into Bristol Airport’s expansion draws to a close; and Gatwick Airport announces its consultation on its plans to bring its emergency runway into routine use as a second runway. Behind the scenes, meanwhile, BEIS updates its carbon values, trebling the climate impact costs of expansion and effectively blowing the economic cases for any future airport growth out of the water… read more

Reform aviation taxation, campaigners tell Treasury

Ahead of the Autumn Budget and Spending Review later this month, AEF in conjunction with T&E, Tax Justice, Green Alliance, Bellona, and Greenpeace, has written to the Chancellor calling for UK tax to be reformed in order to better reflect the environmental cost of aviation… read more

In other news

Google Flights to start displaying flights’ CO2 emissions… read more

Evidence suggests business travel will not return to pre-pandemic levels as businesses strive to reduce their travel emissions… read more

Independent pledges to include flight-free transport options in all of its destination features and guides… read more

FlightFree have launched their 2022 pledge. Feel ready to take a flight free year? Take the pledge here.

What’s coming up?

1st December: close of Gatwick Airport’s consultation on a second runway.

Early next year: Jet Zero strategy expected, following the consultation this year.

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