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The Environmental Impact of Private Jet Charters

While chartering a private jet offers many benefits and extra amenities unavailable to those who fly with any major airline, private jets are not entirely positive experiences. This article intends to highlight the issues and potential course corrections that could be done regarding private aviation’s environmental cost.

The Initial Look Is Not Good

Whether you are talking about a private jet charter West Palm Beach or an executive fleet in the UK, private planes grossly outperform commercial aviation and rail travel in terms of polluting power. More specifically, a European clean transport campaign group, “Transport & Environment”, the report explains that a private plane pollutes 14 times as much per passenger as a commercial flight and private jets pollute 50 times more, 5000%, than trains. Private aviation only accounts for 2% of all flights. Still, it looks bad when politicians routinely take off in their “business jets” while simultaneously advocating for clean air policies and public transportation.

Private planes hold fewer passengers; 40% fly empty to reach their destinations. Fuel efficiency becomes even more onerous when these sub-capacity flights happen over short distances. To put things into perspective, the average private jet expels two tons of carbon an hour, yet the average European generates eight tons of carbon in a year; that means that a single private flight from, say, West Palm Beach to Belize generates an average of around 2.25 tons of carbon while traveling at its cruising speed.

How Has This Changed With Time?

While the United States has enjoyed supremacy over other countries regarding private aviation, COVID-19 saw a rise in wealth among the most affluent that encouraged pursuing private aviation as either an alternative to the commercial airlines that had either closed or limited their operations or to simply fly without worrying about dealing with crowds of people on a flight. Private aviation is still occurring more frequently than before the pandemic, and many charters have noticed nothing but growth in the industry.

Recent findings indicate that nearly two-thirds of major American companies use private jets, with one-third of that demographic starting their charters during the pandemic and 75% of all such companies planning to utilize private jets over the next two years.

Is There Any Sign of Improvement?

While some charters mention an interest in greener fuel sources, little concrete evidence exists as proof. Some politicians have considered taxing jet fuel or raising air passenger duties (APDs), but such policies are little more than a slap on the wrist for the billionaires who can afford to charter a private flight.

The one ray of hope in diminishing private aviation’s drastic effect on the planet’s health is that the people with the money to hire private jets are the same people who can invest capital into improving fuel efficiency and greener fuel alternatives like hydrogen fuel cells and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). SAF is similar to biodiesel, a form of jet fuel created from substances like cooking oil, carbon trapped in the atmosphere, and “green hydrogen,” a substance produced from electrolyzing water.

The Final Boarding Call

Chartering private jets to send the affluent wherever they wish is far from dying off, despite how private jets contribute to the planet’s death. Private jets are for top earners, and their prestige comes with pollution grossly exceeding the exhaust generated by commercial flights or trains. As COVID continues to linger through continual mutation, many have seen the ability to sidestep the general public of an airport or crowded flight as just one reason to charter a private flight.

The one ray of hope in this negativity is that while the rich may not have the personal know-how to engineer greater fuel efficiency or alternative fuel sources for private jets, they possess the money to fund research into those environmental positives. The real questions are, “How willing are the rich to fund such efforts?” “How soon can those efforts pay off?” and “Will that innovation pay off soon enough to matter?”

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