From Schipol to Boston, the private jet wars are on

As countries across the world race to decarbonise serious questions are being asked about the near-term viability of private aviation, but most scientists already know the answer. 

architectural photography of white aircraft

In the past week alone, chaos ensued at Geneva Airport, Switzerland, as environmental activists blocked the area dedicated to private jets. Elsewhere, France’s widely reported new law banning air travel on internal routes served by rail journeys in two-and-a-half hours or under also came into effect – a decision that has been driven in part by a need to reduce private aviation.

Elsewhere, Amsterdam Schipol – Europe’s third busiest airport – has just announced it will shut down its private jet flights entirely by 2026, with between 30 and 50% of the destinations passengers are flying to already well-served by commercial aviation. Nevertheless, not everyone seems to be getting the messge. 

Despite Boston mayor Michelle Wu taking very determined steps to move the metropolis away from fossil fuels, and Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey being a well-known supporter of climate action, plans are underway to expand a suburban jetport at Hanscom Field, with an additional 27 hangars proposed for the site. According to some measures, using a private jet for a trip between New York and Washington D.C. produces around 45 times the emissions per passenger of a commercial flight, and 1,100 times that of a rail journey. 

Questions over the future of aviation in a carbon neutral world have been increasing in volume for many years now. Britain’s Jet Zero Council confirmed a major funding increase for research  into sustainable fuels, which are widely seen as a silver bullet in terms of maintaining global travel links and connectivity, if they can be developed successfully. Meanwhile, research by Transport & Environment published in March revealed that 85% of global companies surveyed were not taking any action to cut their air travel emissions. 

More on aviation and emissions: 

Can aviation ever be truly sustainable?

No clear path to net zero flights, says report

Fears new EU rules could ‘greenwash’ airlines

Image: Chris Leipelt


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