Budget airline EasyJet has been slammed by environmental groups for launching a new 70-minute domestic flight between Birmingham and Edinburgh. Critics think the route is unnecessary route and will cause a needless increase in carbon emissions.
The 250-mile journey, beginning 29 March 2020, will be the UK’s shortest mainland route. The flight will operate twice a day, 13 times a week, flying an estimated 180,000 passengers a year.
Pressure group Flight Free UK said: “At a time of climate emergency we should be drastically reducing our emissions, which means flying far, far less. By announcing yet more domestic routes, airlines are making it very difficult for consumers to make the sustainable choice. New domestic routes are a disaster for the environment at a time when we need to be drastically reducing our emissions.
“We cannot keep ignoring the long-term damage of aviation for short-term profit and ease. There are already good rail links between the two cities (not to mention existing flight routes) so this is wholly unneeded.”
Greenpeace UK chief scientist Dr Doug Parr also commented: “We have a carbon budget. One of the great challenges of this century will be how we allocate that limited carbon budget amongst vitally important industries that can’t operate without carbon emissions – for example cement production, or whenever there is a genuine need to quickly cross an ocean.
“As things stand, we will have to limit these useful and important activities much more than we could have done, because we’ll have frittered away much of that budget on pointless wastes of carbon like flying from Birmingham to Edinburgh.”
EasyJet have responded to the backlash by saying: “Climate change is an issue which we all have to tackle and at easyJet we are already taking our own action. We have modern, fuel efficient planes; we fly in ways to avoid unnecessary use of fuel; and we fly planes full of passengers.
“For the longer term we are also working with partners on new technologies to radically reduce the carbon footprint of flying. This includes with Wright Electric, which is working to produce an all-electric plane for short haul flights.”
Part of the problem stems from cost and efficiency. Flights are still cheaper and faster than train travel. EasyJet claim that flights to Edinburgh will be 25 per cent cheaper than via rail. The flight will also take a quarter of the time of train travel. The journey from Birmingham to Edinburgh takes between four to five hours on its main carrier, Virgin.
Competitor FlyBe already flies this route up to eight times a day, and there are many other short flights within the UK including from Edinburgh to Glasgow and Bristol to Newcastle. Another new EasyJet route from Birmingham to Glasgow will launch on the same day as flight to Edinburgh.
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