Cheap Flights

Flight shaming won’t save the planet

The so-called flygskamers, or ‘flight-shamers’, are everywhere. The flight shaming movement initially started in Sweden, then proceeded to spread its wings (ironically, at first) across Europe.

Some environmentalists are spearheading a social movement seeking to phase out humankind’s most innovative mode of transportation. Their strategy involves shaming those who travel by air into submission by overplaying the impact of aeroplanes on the environment.

Here are some verifiable facts to consider when it comes to global aviation:

80 per cent of aviation CO2 emissions are emitted from flights of over 1,500 kilometres, for which there are no alternatives but taking a plane.

Only two per cent of all human-induced carbon dioxide is emitted as a result of global aviation.

Modern planes are 80 per cent more fuel-efficient than those in use in the 1960s.

1.5 million people in Africa rely on fresh produce delivery by air from the UK alone.

Aviation carries 35 per cent of the value of global shipments, but only 0.5 per cent of the volume. This means that shipments are time-sensitive or very valuable.

The flight-shamers insist that buses and trains can replace their current means of transport. Discounting the substantial additional opportunity costs of these alternatives, let’s consider some more recent facts relating to train travel. Whoever is holding up nationalised rail as an alternative to rail transport should know this:

Just recently, employees of SNCF (France’s state-owned railway company) have been on strike again. Only 1-3 high-speed trains were running during that time, and almost no regional trains ran. The strike was unlimited and unpredictable. People didn’t know if they would be able to come home for the holidays.

Since 1947, there hasn’t been a single year without rail strikes.

Three months of strikes in 2018 cost €790 million, which is higher than its 2017 profits.

Their tickets aren’t cheap. Affordable ones are subsidised by taxpayers (and even by you as a visitor with every purchase you make) so real prices are much higher.

SNCF is €50bn in debt and runs a deficit of over half a billion each year.

There were 400,000 cancellations in 2018.

One-third of intercity and international trains are structurally delayed.

SNCF has paid €20 million in delay fees to rail station operators.

All this applies to an operator that is challenged not by competition but only by its own self-entitlement.

For the Berlin to London, which is a route all sane people travel by plane, a train journey would be excruciating, both on the price and the time. The existing tunnel is London to Lille (1h22). Lille to Berlin with current high-speed connections (SNCF and DB) takes between 11 and 14 hours (factor in SNCF strikes and 25 per cent of DB’s ICE trains being delayed and the timings would be even worse).

That means you’ll end up with four connections and about half a day of travel. That’s only if you’re lucky, which as a regular user of all of these services, I can say with confidence you probably won’t be.

But what about the environment? As ever, technology is leading the way to a brighter, greener future, with the aviation industry developing new and better technologies to clean up air travel.

Airbus’s new A321XLR, for example, has 30 per cent less kerosene consumption per passenger than the previous generation of planes, while adding 30 per cent more range than the current A321neo model.

That should be to nobody’s surprise. Neither the aviation sector and individual airlines have any incentive to use more kerosene than they need to.

The temerity that these campaigners must have to suggest to older people, in particular, that they ought to go back to the old days of disgusting, tiring and nerve-wrenching long train travels is quite rich. What’s worse, however, is distorting the reality of both global aviation and its alternatives.

Originally published here.

The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at 

A Personal Note: All I want for Christmas is not being shamed for flying!

2019 is coming to an end and by December 31st I will have been on 81 flights and 274 hours in total this year. The 210,493 kilometers I have flown in 2019 does not include one helicopter ride I took after an avalanche looked me in a valley. I would have probably also circumnavigated the earth more than 5.25 times if the Eurostar wouldn’t be such an excellent connection with the Eurostar on my 15+ trips from London to Brussels.

And while many of my frequent flyer friends would chuckle about the fact ‘that I didn’t even hit the 100 flights a year’, many concerned environmentalists think that we should stop flying at all and the few private trips my statistic include were unnecessary. 

So should I be ashamed of flying?

Looking at the facts might be a better way to navigate one through the flight shaming debate than just parroting the claims and allegations of environmental activists.

If you care about the environment better fly!

Flying has actually overtaken car rides nearly 20 years ago as the more fuel (and hence carbon-) efficient means of transportation. Michael Sivak of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute calculated that driving in 2010 was even about twice as energy-intensive as flying commercially. 

Comparing train rides to flights, trains will look often much better than flying. However this also depends always on where the electricity of the train is coming from (or if the train is even Diesel-fueled). Wired writes:

“It also makes a big difference whether the train is diesel-powered or electric, and – if it’s the latter – how that electricity is generated. In France, for instance, where a lot of energy comes from nuclear power and trains are mostly electric, travelling by train is greener than in the UK, which has delayed electrification plans indefinitely – although even a journey by diesel train still produces 84 per cent less carbon than flying. 

More than half of the emissions related to rail come from infrastructure activities such as building stations, laying tracks, lightning stations and powering escalators. Of course, that’s not enough to bring train emissions close to those of passenger flights, but it’s something to bear in mind when high-speed rail is touted as a greener alternative. If the routes don’t already exist, there will be a carbon cost to building them – and the rise of electric cars may change the equation further.”

If you want to feel good that you take the train you first might want to check if it’s fueled by a carbon neutral energy source such as nuclear energy. Hence the likelihood to feel environmentally conscious is higher when you take a TGV through the nuclear nation of France than an electric train or diesel train through Germany where 50% of the energy generation comes from fossil fuels and similar CO2 emitters (coal, gas, oil).

Andre Gocavles writes on youMatter.world about how flying is more economical and better for the environment than taking the car. He also spends a good amount of time criticizing the average numbers shown by the European Environment Agency (EEA) that are usually quoted to show how bad flying is for the environment. The EEA uses very high load factors for cars, does discount the change these cars get stuck in traffic or use air conditioning. At the same time they take below industry-average load factors for planes to put them in a (apparently politically motivated) worse light than cars. At the same time evidence tells you another story:

“In the end, a journey by plane is often environmentally better than one by car for long journeys. All other things being alike, choosing the plane increases the occupancy rate of the planes – which will take-off anyway whether you are in it or not. Doing it also reduces traffic congestion and, therefore, optimizes the overall transportation networks. Most times, if you’re carrying less than 4 people in your car, choosing the plane will give you a lower CO2 footprint. And the longer the distance, the more this logic is true. Why? Because a plane’s CO2 emissions are higher during the take-off and landing phases. So the longer the flight is, more kilometers or miles the plane will have to soften the impact of these 2 phases.”

A lot of the comparison numbers do not take into account the CO2 footprint of actually building train tracks and maintaining them. Poor occupancy rates of trains are also not mentioned.

And if you still feel bad about your (relatively low) carbon footprint caused by flying you might want to follow some of the policy suggestions offered by Reason Foundation’s Bob Poole

  • Massive Forest Restoration: A number of recent papers in peer-reviewed journals have found that there is room, on land areas adjacent to existing forests, for huge amounts of carbon-absorbing trees to be planted. A widely noted paper in Science by Jean-Francois Bastin and others estimates that reforesting 2.2 billion acres of such land could absorb 205 gigatonnes of carbon. There are a number of other scientific papers along these lines and an overview article in Scientific American.

Agricultural Land Restoration: Bloomberg News reported that for an estimated $300 billion, about 2 billion acres of worn-out farmland could be restored to productive use, sequestering carbon in the process. It cited research by the UN Food & Agriculture Organization and others. The Wall Street Journal discussed a start-up company, Indigo Ag Inc., that is setting up a market for carbon credits based on this idea.

Planes have become at least 4 times more carbon efficient compared to where they were in the 1970’s. The rise of low cost carriers have brought more narrow setups of seats on planes and occupancy rates of 90% and above due to better route planning. So the next time you hear an environmentalist complaining about flying being too cheap, feel free to respond that especially those who made flying cheaper also helped to bring down its per passenger carbon footprint. These developments are highly encouraging and also a faster improvement than with any other technology. Flight shaming and ban of this great way of transportation would kill innovation that could make flying even less noisy and less polluting. 

With that I wish you all very Happy Holidays and a good start into 2020.

Fred Roeder
Managing Director
Consumer Choice Center

The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at 

Govt shouldn’t help Thomas Cook casualties: opinion

Don’t put ordinary consumers on the hook for flying back Thomas Cook holidayers

On Monday, the travel company Thomas Cook announced it would cease operations immediately after it was unable to raise enough money to pay off its debts. This has left hundreds of thousands of travelers without return flights from their holiday destinations.

As a response, several politicians in the U.K. called for government aid to Thomas Cook, and the government has been called to intervene and help out stranded travelers.

Fred Roeder, London-based Managing Director of the Consumer Choice Center, responded by stating that an intervention by the government would be the wrong direction to take.

“It is sad to see a legacy travel company such as Thomas Cook to go under,” said Roeder. “But many politicians want to show their support to stranded travelers by flying them home on taxpayers’ dime.

“While it is very unfortunate to be stranded at the end of a holiday, one should ask why taxpayers should pay for tourists who didn’t buy insolvency or travel insurance? 

“Why should those who stayed home because they either didn’t have the money or time for holidays bail out those who went for a holiday trip but didn’t want to spend the extra few pounds for insurance? This is effectively is the scenario that ordinary British consumers and taxpayers are faced with,” said Roeder.

Read more here

An EU departure tax would fly in the face of reason

While the Conservative leadership race dominates the news in the UK, the European Union is continuing to regulate as usual. At a recent European Council, the Netherlands proposed an EU departure tax, which would add a levy of €7 (£6.25) to every flight departing from an airport inside of a member state. The tax has the support of France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Sweden and Finland, but could be opposed by Malta and Cyprus. Both islands would be hurt by higher taxes on air travel, since travelling from, say, Stockholm to Malta by boat is probably not the most convenient of options.

French Finance Commissioner Pierre Moscovici has argued that before such a tax can even be countenanced, the EU needs to remove the right for countries to veto any EU-wide tax initiatives. Instead, he proposes a system of qualified-majority voting, which would fundamentally strengthen the EU’s ability to push through significant legislative change in the face of opposition. Such changes are afoot, and make the likelihood of the Netherlands proposed tax becoming law in the future.

Having a passenger tax isn’t a new idea. In fact, Air Passenger Duty already exists in the UK, Italy, Germany, France, Sweden and Austria. In the UK, the reduced rate for air travel in the lowest class available is £13 (standard rate at £26). Flights over 2,000 miles have a reduced rate of £78 and a standard rate of £172. This is up from 2007, when the tax was doubled from £5 to £10 for European destinations. There have subsequent increases, even though research from Oxford University suggests that high-income groups would rather absorb the tax than change their travel habits, showing that the Air Passenger Duty is clearly regressive, hitting the poorest hardest.

Such regression is exacerbated by the fact that the EU departure tax would be applied uniformly to all citizens of all countries across the Union. The disparity in wealth (or GDP per capita) of Germany or Luxembourg compared to the likes of Bulgaria or Moldova is dramatic. And yet under this tax a venture capitalist in Frankfurt and a construction worker in Sofia would pay the same levy whenever they boarded a plane.

Over recent decades affordable flying has democratised the act of travelling. Locations that were previously unattainable for lower middle class and low-income households are now viable tourist destinations. This has benefited both the tourists themselves and the places they travel to, helping to regenerate calcified towns and cities.

But what about the environment? As ever, technology is leading the way to a brighter, greener future, with the aviation industry developing new and better technologies to clean up air travel. Airbus’ new A321XLR. for example, has 30% less kerosene consumption per passenger, while adding 30% more range than the currently used A321neo. That should be to nobody’s surprise: both the aviation sector and airlines do not have any incentive to use more kerosene than they have to.

The European Union is going down the road of abstinence instead of innovation. The United Kingdom should go in the opposite direction, and trust engineers and scientists to solve the transportation and environmental challenges of the future, while maintaining affordable travel for all. The first step towards doing that post-Brexit would be to abolish the regressive Air Passenger Duty.

Read more here

L’État français augmentera encore vos prix d’avion

La ministre des Transports Elisabeth Borne a annoncé le mardi 9 juillet que le gouvernement va mettre en place dès 2020 une écotaxe de 1,50 à 18 euros sur les billets d’avion pour tous les vols au départ de la France, sauf vers la Corse et l’Outre Mer et pour les vols en correspondance. 

L’année dernière, le même gouvernement avait décidé de réduire cette taxe de 1,20 euros à 90 centimes afin d’aider le secteur de l’aviation. Avec la suppression de l’augmentation la taxe intérieure de consommation sur les produits énergétiques (TICPE), l’État a décidé de récolter les recettes fiscales dans un autre secteur du transport. 

Cette taxe aura des répercussions sur les coûts de vos billets d’avion. L’agence pour le choix du consommateur s’oppose à cette taxe en France, ainsi qu’au niveau de l’Union européenne. Notre mouvement #HandsOffMyCheapFlights (ne touchez pas à mes vols pas chers) fait campagne contre une taxe de départ européenne de 7 euros par vol.

En février, le gouvernement néerlandais a commencé à diffuser une prise de position suggérant à l’UE d’introduire une taxe de départ sur les vols au départ de l’Union européenne. Le document promu par le secrétaire d’État néerlandais aux finances, Menno Snel, propose de mettre en place une taxe de 7 euros par vol passager dans tous les États membres.

L’UE28 compte près de 1,5 milliard de passagers aériens au départ chaque année. Les projets néerlandais coûteraient aux consommateurs européens 10 milliards d’euros par an et pourraient empêcher de nombreux Européens à rendre visite à des amis ou à étudier à l’étranger.

Pour un don de 7 euros, vous deviendrez membre officiel du mouvement Hands Off My Cheap Flights et recevrez un badge unique portant votre nom. Le logo du mouvement Hands Off My Cheap Flights sera utilisé tout au long de la campagne pour signifier l’importance de votre investissement et pour faire progresser votre choix de consommateur à l’aide de divers outils de marketing.

Pour un don de 50 euros, vous deviendrez l’une des principales voix du mouvement Hands Off My Cheap Flights. Vous serez mis en vedette sur le site Web de la CCC en tant que partisan de la campagne et vous serez invité à partager vos idées sur la question. 

Nous mettrons fin à la taxe de départ si nous travaillons ensemble

Svarsto naują aviacijos mokestį: kiek lėktuvų bilietai brangtų Lietuvoje

Ragina politikus neskubėti

Nevyriausybinės vartotojų teisių organizacijos „Consumer Choice Center“ vadovas Fredas Roederis, kad naujas europinis mokestis pakenktų vartotojams.

„Keliavimas oru per paskutinius dešimtmečius tapo kur kas pigesnis. Tai demokratizavo mobilumą, nes net mažesnes pajamas turintys vartojai gavo galimybę keliauti užsienyje“, – pranešime žiniasklaidai cituojamas organizacijos vadovas.

Jo teigimu, Nyderlanduose ar Švedijoje 7 eurų dydžio mokestis nebūtų didelis, bet ne tokiose turtingose ES valstybėse jis būtų gana juntamas. Kitokio tipo papildomas skrydžių apmokestinimas esą irgi turėtų neigiamos įtakos vartotojams.

„Klimato iššūkiai svarbūs, tačiau jie negali būti sprendžiami paprasčiausiai stengiantis išlaikyti vartotojus namuose. Nauji lėktuvų modeliai turi kur kas efektyvesnius variklius ir ne už ilgo taps prieinami rinkoje. Politikos pasiūlymų skubinimas niekur nenuves“, – komentavo F. Roederis.

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Ένας επιπλέον «αεροπορικός» φόρος θα έπληττε τις κοινωνικά ευάλωτες τάξεις

Ένας ευρωπαϊκός αεροπορικός φόρος στους επιβάτες, θα έπληττε την κινητικότητα των πιο «κοινωνικά ευάλωτων» καταναλωτών, υποστηρίζει, το «Τhe Consumer Choice Center», καθώς εναντιώνεται στις προτάσεις της Ολλανδίας για φόρο στα εισιτήρια, στα 7 ευρώ στην Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση.

Οι υπουργοί της ΕΕ πέρασαν δύο ημέρες συζητώντας προτάσεις για περιβαλλοντικό φόρο επί των αερομεταφορών σε συνάντηση την περασμένη εβδομάδα. Στόχος τους είναι να παρουσιάσουν ένα νέο φορολογικό σχέδιο για τη νέα Ευρωπαϊκή Επιτροπή το φθινόπωρο.

Σκοπός είναι να περιοριστούν οι πτήσεις προκειμένου να μειωθούν οι εκπομπές του διοξειδίου  του άνθρακα.

Ο Fred Roeder, διευθύνων σύμβουλος του,The Consumer Choice Center, δήλωσε:

«Τα αεροπορικά ταξίδια είναι σημαντικά φθηνότερα τις τελευταίες δεκαετίες. Αυτό έχει εκδημοκρατίσει τις μεταφορές, στο βαθμό που οι καταναλωτές χαμηλού εισοδήματος έχουν σχεδόν την ίδια ικανότητα να ταξιδεύουν στο εξωτερικό ως μισθωτοί μεσαίας τάξης, αλλά και υψηλής.

Η Ολλανδία πρότεινει μια νέα εισφορά ύψους 7 ευρώ ανά επιβάτη και ανά τμήμα πτήσης στην Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση.

«Αυτό μπορεί να μην είναι μεγάλο ποσό σε ορισμένες βόρειες χώρες όπως τη Σουηδία ,αλλά στην Κεντρική και Ανατολική Ευρώπη, αυτό θα αποτελούσε σημαντική αύξηση των τιμών».


«Τα νησιωτικά κράτη όπως η Μάλτα, η Κύπρος και τμήματα της Ισπανίας και της Ελλάδας θα έχουν σοβαρό αντίκτυπο στην οικονομία τους.

Ο Roeder δήλωσε: «Υπάρχουν περιβαλλοντικές προκλήσεις που πρέπει να ξεπεραστούν, αλλά δεν μπορούν να καταπολεμηθούν απλά λέγοντας στους καταναλωτές να μένουν στο σπίτι τους. Τα νέα μοντέλα αεροσκαφών με πιο αποδοτικούς κινητήρες θα είναι διαθέσιμα τα επόμενα χρόνια.

Τέλος, αναφέρεται ότι η Iata αναφέρει ότι οι κυβερνήσεις θα πρέπει να ενθαρρύνουν τις νέες τεχνολογίες και τα αειφόρα καύσιμα για την αεροπορία, προκειμένου να μειώσουν τις εκπομπές διοξειδίου του άνθρακα στους αερομεταφορές, αντί να επιβάλλουν περιβαλλοντικούς φόρους.

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EU-wide air tax would ‘hit mobility of the socially vulnerable’

An EU-wide passenger tax would hit the mobility of the most “socially vulnerable” consumers, it is being claimed.

Advocacy group The Consumer Choice Center attacked proposals put forward by the Netherlands for €7 ticket tax.

EU ministers spent two days debating proposals for an environmental tax on aviation at a meeting last week.

They aim to present an aviation tax plan to the new European Commission this autumn.

The goal is to curb flights in order to reduce carbon emissions.

Fred Roeder, managing director of the Consumer Choice Center, said: “Air travel has got considerably cheaper throughout the past decades. This has democratised transportation, to the extent that low-income consumers have nearly the same ability to travel abroad as middle-class or high-income earners.

“The Netherlands has suggested a new levy of €7 per passenger per flight segment in the European Union.

“This might not be a lot in some northern countries such as Sweden – which supports the proposal – but in central and eastern Europe, this would constitute a considerable price increase.”

He added: “Other models, such as taxing fuel, would also result in higher ticket prices.

“No matter if the EU ends up with taxing passengers directly or taxing them indirectly through taxes on jet fuel, it will hurt mobility for the most socially vulnerable Europeans.

“Island nations such as Malta, Cyprus, and parts of Spain and Greece will also be hurt significantly as both tourism and commerce will get more expensive.”

Roeder said: “There are environmental challenges to overcome, but they cannot be combated by simply telling consumers to stay home. New aircraft models with more efficient engines will become available in the coming years. Rushing policy decisions won’t get us anywhere.”

Read more here

Democratising travel

The #HandsOffMyCheapFlights campaign is about more than just what its name suggests. Cheap flights are what consumers know and love about air travel in the past years, but it is the overall phenomenon of democratised travel that should have us stand in awe. For people in upper-middle-class and wealthy conditions, the world was just the purchase of a ticket away for much longer. Whether it’s €300 or €30 to Milan, doesn’t really make much of a difference to them. So to the privileged (you’ll excuse the word) eye, travelling has remained the same, with one notable change: there are more people on the airport. Shockingly, it’s low-income consumers who suddenly fly into the same airport as the privileged travellers. It takes more time to get your suitcase, getting through security is a hassle, and for goodness sake, you can’t even get a seat while waiting to board.

No wonder some people are a bit annoyed. But saying that you don’t want people to fly just so that you don’t have to pay for fast-track security control isn’t marketable, so sustainability comes into play. What about all the noise and pollution? Don’t bother considering the fact that innovation in the aviation sector is continuously improving fuel efficiency, since carriers have no incentive to waste kerosene needlessly. Also, don’t mention that improved aircrafts, more efficient flight routes, and reduced speeds have made the sector much more efficient than it was 20 or 30 years ago.

That’s all a bit hyperbolic, and you’ll maybe even consider it bad faith. And maybe it is.

But for some reason, not everyone rejoices at the democratisation of travel. In a time in which the debate about inequality is so predominant, we’re not lending an ear to consumers who want to go on holidays, or visit a friend, just as much as all those with higher income than them. Modern aviation has made it possible, yet activists and governments around the world are there to roll this back.

The Consumer Choice Center fights the EU departure tax from the beginning. We will stand up for consumers who want to have choices when it comes to the means of transportation. We are making people aware that flights are emitting much less carbon than they were in the past, and that this level innovation is set to continue in the future. If however, we choose to limit this development in an effort to answer to alarmism, then we will inevitably fail.

Let’s not let that happen.

Dutch Plans of an EU-wide Air Passenger Tax won’t fly High with Consumers

Last month, the Dutch government began circulating a position paper suggesting the EU should introduce a Union-wide air passenger departure tax on flights departing from the European Union. The paper promoted by the Netherland’s Secretary of State for Finance Menno Snel suggests a 7 EUR per passenger flight tax be rolled out within all Member […]

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