Private jet ban called for in open letter: Which European countries take the most flights?

Private jet ban called for in open letter: Which European countries take the most flights?

More than 75 organisations from across Europe have signed an open letter calling for a ban on private jets.

"While most of us have been struggling through a cost of living crisis, private jet sales will likely reach a record high this year," the letter argues.

It says that a "small class of hypermobile elites" are wreaking "devastation" through frequent luxury flights or splurging their wealth on super-polluting private jets.

The letter is signed by organisations including Friends of the Earth, the Stay Grounded network, the Federation of Young European Greens and Flight Free UK.

Together they are demanding a tax on frequent fliers as well as a ban on private jets and frequent flyer reward programmes.

"One billionaire damages the climate as much with an eleven-minute flight as several individuals from the poorer part of the world’s population do during their entire lifetime," says Sean Currie from the Stay Grounded network.

"We cannot make any more exceptions for the super-rich. We have to ban private jets, and instead of rewarding frequent flyers with air miles programmes, it’s time to tax frequent flying."

Private jet use soared in Europe in 2022

Calls for a crackdown on private jets come after traffic from this polluting mode of transport over Europe soared by 64 per cent last year.

Around a quarter of the 572,806 jet journeys taken in 2022 were ‘very short haul’ according to a Greenpeace report, covering distances under 500km which could have been train trips. One frequent route in the UK takes less than 30 minutes to cycle.

Data experts at the Dutch environmental consultancy Delft tracked the flights to see which European countries have the worst private jet record, with one clearly coming out on top.

Private jets are staggeringly polluting and generally pointless,” says Doug Parr, policy director at Greenpeace UK.

“Millions of people around the world are facing climate chaos, losing livelihoods or worse, while a tiny minority are burning jet fuel like there’s no tomorrow.”

NGO Transport and Environment calculates that private jets are five to 14 times more polluting per passenger than commercial flights, and 50 times more polluting than trains.

That makes them the most polluting mode of transport on the planet per passenger kilometre.

Here are the countries most responsible for the 3.3 million tonnes of CO2 emissions from private jets across Europe last year.

Which country saw the highest number of private jet flights last year?

A private jet took off from the UK every six minutes last year, according to the Greenpeace report.

In total, 90,256 jets departed from the country in 2022, followed by France with 84,885 and Germany with 58,424 departures.

The analysis shows that the number of private jets from the UK increased by a staggering 75 per cent in 2022.

These figures have made Britain the number one target for aviation campaigners. “If the government is serious about net zero and a fair transition to low-carbon transport then private jets should be first on the chopping block,” adds Parr.

France’s numbers are set to drop, however, as the country has moved to ban short haul domestic flights.

Luxembourg has the highest number of flights per capita

Accounting for population size puts a different European country on top.

Luxembourg saw the highest number of private jets per capita depart last year, according to Euronews analysis of total flights, adjusted for Eurostat’s latest population figures.

4,323 flights per million people departed from the small country last year - perhaps no surprise given it is also the world’s richest nation.

Wealthy Switzerland and Malta followed, with 4,052 and 3,923 departures respectively.

Which country produced the most CO2 emissions from private jets?

The UK is also responsible for the most emissions from private jets, with a whopping 501,077 tonnes of CO2 sent skywards in 2022.

The 90,256 jets that took off from UK runways last year emitted half a million tonnes of CO2 - considerably more than in any other European country.

France followed with 383,061 tonnes of CO2 emissions. Italy was the third worst offender by this metric, pumping out 266,082 tonnes of the greenhouse gas with its private jet traffic.

Ireland produced the most CO2 emissions per private flight

Taking into account the average distance of flights in each country tells a slightly different story.

According to our analysis of the Delft data, Ireland produced the most CO2 emissions per private flight at 14.68 tonnes. The shortest route used for aviation last year was between Kerry County and Shannon - a distance of just over 70km.

Portugal comes next with 8.17 tonnes of CO2 per private jet flight, followed by Cyprus with 7.81.

Which are the most popular routes for private jets in Europe?

London to Paris topped the list of most frequent jet routes last year, with 3,357 private planes chartered between the capitals last year, despite them being swiftly connected via the Eurostar.

In full, the top most popular routes for private jets in Europe are (in both directions):

  1. Paris-London: 3,357 flights (343 km)

  2. London-Nice: 2,896 flights (1,029 km)

  3. Geneva-Paris: 2,745 (410 km)

  4. Paris-Nice: 2,311 flights (686 km)

  5. Geneva-London: 1,977 flights (746 km)

  6. Geneva-Nice: 1,671 flights (292 km)

  7. Rome-Milan: 1,677 flights (478 km)

  8. London-Milan: 1,355 flights (959 km)

  9. Farnborough-London: 1,343 flights (49 km)

  10. Amsterdam-London: 1,298 flights (357 km)

The UK is also home to the most carbon-intensive route. It’s just under five miles between Farnborough and Blackbushe in Hampshire, but 13 flights took the sky-way last year.

Aviation campaigners are calling for a ban

Such extravagantly indulgent journeys are wreaking serious damage through their contribution to the climate crisis.

In 2018, 50 per cent of all aviation emissions were caused by only one per cent of the world’s population.

“The alarming growth of private jet flights is entirely at odds with all the climate science that tells us to bring down CO2 emissions immediately in order to avert total disaster,” says Klara Maria Schenk, transport campaigner for Greenpeace’s Mobility for All campaign.

“Over 60 per cent of the oil used globally is for transport. Reducing oil-powered transport immediately is a no-brainer, starting with a ban on ultra-polluting private jets.”