Think Tank Calls for British Domestic Flights to Be Banned

Photo Credit: Arash Abed/AviationSource

LONDON – Intergenerational Foundation, a UK think tank, has called for British domestic flights to be banned and to follow France’s lead in this.

Through their report “Trains over planes: Why the government should encourage domestic train travel”, they have called for passenger flights for journeys with viable train routes of under four-and-a-half hours to be banned.

They believe that this would cut the country’s emissions from domestic aviation in half.

Angus Hanton, IF Co-Founder, comments, “We are all aware of the risks posed by climate change, and reducing domestic flights is one way in which we can significantly reduce the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions.”

“Banning domestic flights with a viable alternative by train would be a faster route to our Net Zero targets and a small but important contribution to protecting future generations from the effects of climate change.”

Wera Hobhouse, Liberal Democrat MP for Bath and author of the report’s foreword, added, “The public understands that flying harms the environment, but they need policy support to help encourage them out of planes and onto trains.”

“If the French can ban domestic flights with a rail equivalent, so too can the United Kingdom.”

Domestic aviation was responsible for emitting 2.7 megatonnes of CO2 and CO2 equivalents in 2019. However, almost two-thirds (62%) of CO2 emissions from UK domestic flights in 2019 were between cities linked by the rail network and are potentially replaceable by rail travel.

The report calls for the government to ban domestic flights on routes that could be traveled by rail in 4.5 hours or less.

The think tank calculates that this would result in a 53% reduction in CO2 emissions from domestic flights within Great Britain and a 33% reduction in CO2 emissions from all of UK domestic aviation.

Traveling by airplane is seven times more harmful in terms of CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions than traveling by train.

The Intergenerational Foundation think tank argues that the negative environmental effects of domestic aviation are not reflected in airfares and that successive governments have failed to adequately tax air fuel and passengers according to the “polluter pays”

Rail Services Need to Improve First…

When you think of some of the popular domestic flights across the UK, you may think of the following to name a few:

  • Manchester-Heathrow
  • Heathrow-Edinburgh
  • Heathrow-Glasgow
  • Heathrow-Belfast
  • And others!

These routes are very important to the way the UK functions, especially with a high-speed rail franchise that is in complete disrepute at present time.

For example, the UK Government recently placed Avanti West Coast on a short-term contract, with the government stating this is down to the company seeing “major operational issues primarily caused by a shortage of available drivers”.

Whilst Avanti is looking to improve its services, this has been an issue that has been going on for some time, and even in some cases, airfares are cheaper than train fares.

So, from an observational point of view, Intergenerational Foundation needs to look at how rail fares can be brought down before coming after the aviation industry.

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