British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak loves a private jet.

Last month Sunak took three trips by private jet in just over a week, including flying from London to Blackpool and London to Leeds, both journeys that could have been done by train in two and a half to three hours. The UK is in fact Europe’s worst private jet polluter.


Private Jets to the Alps

But Sunak is not alone. Many British ‘luxury’ ski companies will book private jets for their guests to fly to Geneva, Sion or in the case of resorts like Courchevel, direct to the resort itself. In 2022, there were almost 2000 private jets that travelled between London and Geneva.

According to Transport & Environment, private planes are up to 14 times more polluting, per passenger, than commercial planes and 50 times more polluting than trains.

Two tonnes of carbon an hour

The average private jet emits two tonnes of carbon an hour. Put in context of the average European carbon footprint of eight tonnes of carbon a year, a flight to the Alps would be at least half of that in one return flight.

What can the snowsports industry do?

There’s lots of talk about cutting emissions within the industry, but less action. Donations to climate change organisations and offsetting [rarely effective] is wiped out many times over if guests travel by private jet.

Here are a few ways the industry could help…

Don’t offer private jets to clients
A pretty simple fix. Who’s going to be the ‘luxury’ operator prepared to put their head above the parapet and take action?

Don’t accept adverts like this
Adverts from charter companies, offering private jet transfers to ski resorts, appear regularly on some websites. Even if automated, it’s easy to exclude ads like this.

Detail the carbon cost of private jets
Let’s say you deflect the decision to the consumer: “It’s up to them to decide” is an easy option. In which case, make it clear the carbon cost of these flights, even relative to regular commercial flights.

It’s worth noting that Boris Johnson’s much lauded ‘Jet Zero’ is just a dream. While electric planes could well be practical for short taxi-style journeys, short haul or long haul electric flights are likely to be unrealistic before 2100.

Ultimately, Alice Ridley, from the Campaign for Better Transport, sums it up well:

“At the moment, there’s no way to reduce climate emissions from aviation other than flying less.”

(c) Clodagh Kilcoyne