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Ryanair warms global argumentation

by Frank Schnittger Sat Jul 19th, 2008 at 04:34:26 AM EST


Even in the most garrulous reaches of Irish society, Ryanair's Chief Executive. Michael O'Leary, is noted for having a mouth big enough to fly a Boeing into.  His latest bout of foot-in-mouth disease concerns his attempt to refute claims that the airline industry is a major and growing contributor to Global warming.  In a letter to the Editor of the Irish Times (see below) he used the words "eco-loonie",  mumbo-jumbo, eco-babble, "eco-twits", eco-nuts, eco-clowns, and eco kill-joys to characterise and disparage those who sought to argue the case for putting greater taxation on flying as a means of reducing our carbon footprint.


Climate change and cheap flying - The Irish Times - Sat, Jul 12, 2008

Madam, - I was disturbed to read in Thursday's Irish Times yet another factually inaccurate opinion piece from one of the small band of eco-loonies. The idea that the climate is "paying the price" for low-cost flying is as absurd as it is untrue.

In an article littered with false claims and environmental mumbo-jumbo, readers are invited to share the writer's delusion that massive increases in taxation (on air travel) will somehow "save" our planet, as if it needs saving in the first place. Wrong, wrong and wrong again.

Instead of this eco-babble, perhaps your readers would be interested in some actual facts:

1. The European Environmental Agency confirms that aviation accounts for less than 2 per cent of Europe's CO2 emissions. By contrast, shipping accounts for 5 per cent, motor transport 18 per cent and power generation (mainly Government-owned) some 26 per cent.

2. No industry has improved its technology usage or reduced its emissions per customer as much as the airline industry in the past decade. For example Ryanair, by switching from older, polluting aircraft to quieter, fuel-efficient 737-800s, has reduced its emissions per passenger-kilometre by 50 per cent over the past 10 years. With oil now at $140 a barrel, airlines are doing everything they can to reduce oil usage.

3. Contrary to the myth that airlines are tax exempt or don't pay taxes, we are the only form of mass transport within Europe which pays for all its own infrastructure (runways, airports, air traffic control, aircraft, etc) at a time when Europe's ferries, trains, buses and roads continue to be massively subsidised by taxpayers.

4. Ireland is an island, and therefore the only way for our citizens and visitors to access this country is to fly. Contrary to the views of most of these "eco-twits", we can't reasonably walk or cycle or take a kayak to get on and off the island.

5. The biggest lie at the heart of all of this eco-babble is that higher taxes will somehow save the planet. This is simply untrue. Higher taxes simply means greater government revenue, waste and misspending.

The greatest polluters in Europe are the governments, which in most cases own the power generating stations (the biggest man-made polluters of all) and which, like the eco-nuts, preach to ordinary consumers about caring for the environment while doing nothing useful to improve it.

Unlike these eco-clowns, the airline industry is doing everything in its power to reduce its impact on the environment. Many of these eco kill-joys would like to prevent people flying altogether. Imagine the state of Irish tourism if we banned visitors from flying. Higher taxation won't reduce people's propensity to travel. John Gibbons's absurd claim that "the world's poor pay the highest price for runway emissions" is totally and utterly untrue.

Irish citizens and visitors are now going to be penalised by the mindless bureaucrats of Brussels, encouraged by these eco-loonies, whose predictions about global warming are the modern-day equivalent of those doom-mongers in the middle ages who used to run around towns and cities preaching that the end of mankind was nigh! It wasn't, and nor will the world's climate pay a price for low-cost flights.

Perhaps The Irish Times could encourage sensible, fact-based debate, rather than providing a soap-box for the ranting nonsense and false claims and fictional statistics of yet another eco-nut. - Yours, etc,

MICHAEL O'LEARY, Chief Executive, Ryanair, Dublin Airport.

Many here will be better able that I to refute many of these claims - although my own view is that most of them are highly selective and miss the point that aviation is one of the fastest growing contributors to CO2 emissions.  My own humble (as yet unpublished) missive was more concerned with highlighting the damage Mr. O'Leary was doing to his own business by his frequent rants at all who don't see or do things his way:

I am a Ryanair customer who has bought Ryanair shares in the vain hope that I might also profit from the indignities Ryanair regularly heaps upon me and its other customers - charging 10 Euros for the use of a credit card, herding people like cattle, providing uncomfortable seating, and generally adopting an unfriendly and unhelpful attitude to customers in need of service.

Unfortunately, by failing to hedge against spiralling fuel costs, by buying more planes whilst anyone with any sense is cutting back, and by creating an atmosphere and an experience which results in many people being prepared to pay more to other airlines rather than do business with Ryanair, Michael O'Leary is not doing his shareholders any favours either, with Ryanair dividends being derisory as a direct consequence.

Now he has chosen to hurl his childish epithets at campaigners against Global warming despite the fact that air travel is one of the fastest growing contributors to CO2 emissions and that flying for most of us is discretionary, whereas generating electricity, heating houses or getting to work is not.

Is there nothing he will not do to try and destroy the Ryanair brand? Besides alienating customers, shareholders, Airport authorities, regulators, politicians, environmentalists and ordinary people who may not be experts but who care about the environment, is there anyone he has not alienated?

Ryanair is sometimes the cheapest Airline not because of Michael O'Leary's generosity or business acumen, but because people are not prepared to pay more for such a devalued brand and travelling experience - and increasingly they are choosing not to do so - with Ryanair passenger numbers due to fall this winter for the first time.

It's time for Michael O'Leary to take one of his own one way flights to a semi-derelict airport in the middle of nowhere and make way for a Chief Executive who can promote a more positive image for the airline, a better example to his staff, a more profitable experience for his shareholders and a more enjoyable experience for his customers. Goodbye Michael. Enjoy the flight. (That will be 7 Euro for the soggy sandwich and undrinkable cup of tea).

Kinds regards,

Frank Schnittger

Display:
Good letter, Frank.

European Tribune - Comments - Ryanair warms global argumentation

For example Ryanair, by switching from older, polluting aircraft to quieter, fuel-efficient 737-800s, has reduced its emissions per passenger-kilometre by 50 per cent over the past 10 years. With oil now at $140 a barrel, airlines are doing everything they can to reduce oil usage.

But implicit in this statement is an important point.

This is that to save carbon energy use saves money directly, with the desirable consequence of reduced carbon emissions then following.

So O'Leary makes an environmental virtue out of a commercial necessity.

It reinforces my case that the monetisation of carbon emissions (which have no value) - while to be expected from the same intermediaries who monetise value-less IOU's  - is an inferior solution to the monetisation of carbon energy content.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sat Jul 19th, 2008 at 04:52:49 AM EST
So you suggest taxing aviation fuel rather than CO2 emissions?

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jul 19th, 2008 at 04:57:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A slight variation on a tax.

A "compulsory investment" into a "carbon pool".

The carbon pool would then comprise a fund available to invest in upgrading the global fleet of planes.

This investment would take the form of an "Energy Loan" repayable in carbon-based Energy Units ("Carbon Dollars?) in the Pool at the market price.

The result would be that airlines would have the wherewithal to reduce emissions by investing in their fleet, and would repay the investment in "Carbon Dollars" from the savings they make.

Note that the energy investment would not be in the airline - it would be in the plane, possibly as part of a leasing arrangement.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sat Jul 19th, 2008 at 05:15:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
However if I might be so bold as to anticipate Michael O'Leary's response to this:  "What bollocks!  You want Airlines like Ryanair, which have taken the trouble and expense to invest in the latest, most fuel efficient airplanes, to subsidise those inefficient Airlines who haven't bothered to do this and instead have wasted their money on expensive staff and overheads?"

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jul 19th, 2008 at 05:25:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not quite!

Those people who make "compulsory investment" will be issued with redeemable "Units", so O'Leary can flog his off on the market in Units that would develop.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sat Jul 19th, 2008 at 05:44:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
OK - more money for bureaucrats and traders who add no value - instead of my dear friend Michael being free and able to invest his bucks where they give him his biggest bang.  Pure socialism!  His forced investments still end up going to inefficient airlines (and competitors he would like to get rid of) - and thus will be of far less real value to him that if he had invested "his" money in his own airline.

Why not just let Ryanair put inefficient airlines out of business thus replacing their inefficient fleet with his?

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jul 19th, 2008 at 06:05:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course.

No company can ever be happy til it's a private unregulated monopoly.

But give him a choice between this and emissions trading.....

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sat Jul 19th, 2008 at 06:40:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not only Ryanair that's up in arms, it's the whole aviation lobby.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) 16 July 2008 Farnborough, UK  Taxes Don't Reduce Emissions

"Taxes don't reduce emissions. Only better operations and technology can do that," said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA's Director General and CEO, addressing the Farnborough International 2008 Sustainable Aviation Briefing.

"The airline industry is in crisis. With a fuel bill of US$190 billion - one third of its costs - saving fuel is a matter of survival. Still Europe is fixated on punitive measures supposedly designed to reduce emissions. There is a rush to implement taxes, taxes and more taxes.
...



The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)
by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Sat Jul 19th, 2008 at 06:07:11 AM EST
Climate change and cheap flying - The Irish Times - Wed, Jul 16, 2008

Madam, - John Gibbons's article "Climate to pay price for low-cost flying" (Opinion, July 10th) will just confuse the public by perpetrating yet more questionable statistics on aviation's impact on climate. Several research centres have produced widely varying so-called facts and figures. It is more sensible to rely on the figures of the world's most authoritative organisation on this subject, the Nobel Prize-winning United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The IPCC confirmed in May 2007 that the aviation industry contributes 3 per cent to worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. Even if aviation's emissions reached the IPCC's projected figure of 5 per cent by 2050, this would still represent far less than the current emissions from road transport, shipping, deforestation or energy production.

According to the IPCC, CO2 emissions from aviation will grow at 0.7 per cent a year, compared with 2 per cent for power generation, 1.7 per cent for transport on average, 1.6 per cent for industry, and 1 per cent for the residential/commercial sector.

And aircraft are not "mile for mile by far the worst environmental offenders". The current fleet average fuel efficiency is around 4 litres per 100 passenger kilometres. The aircraft now coming into the fleet are averaging 3.5 litres and the new generation of planes, such as the Boeing 787 and the Airbus 380, are targeting under 3 litres. That is better mile for mile than most cars on the road in Ireland today.

Mr Gibbons says the EU emissions trading scheme is a critical part of the EU's efforts to rein in increases in CO2 emissions. But the EU has for 20 years failed to take the one step that would, at a stroke, cut 16 million tonnes (the EU's own figure) from aviation CO2 emissions each year - revamping the inefficient air traffic management system into a "Single European Sky". It is strange that Mr Gibbons does not mention this but focuses instead on an emissions trading scheme that will have at best a marginal impact on emissions and will lead to legal battles from countries outside the EU.

However, the industry is not using its relatively small contribution to climate change as an excuse for inaction. Contrary to Mr Gibbons's absurd claim that aviation is "a model of environmental unsustainability", the whole industry is investing heavily in energy-saving measures.

Planes are now 70 per cent more fuel-efficient than they were 40 years ago and another 25 per cent fuel efficiency gain is projected for 2020. Moreover, by shortening routes and reducing weight, airlines actually saved 12 million tonnes of CO2 last year. - Yours, etc,

PAUL STEELE,

Executive Director,

Air Transport Action Group,

Geneva,

Switzerland.



"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jul 19th, 2008 at 07:20:40 AM EST
I thought I'd put this out there to assuage my guilt about flying (with Ryanair) to our Paris meet-up.  I hope this admission doesn't get me banned from ET or at least made to wear heavy carbon sink boots for the weekend.

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jul 19th, 2008 at 08:35:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I suppose you are all aware of how Ryanair treats its crews ? If not, see here :
http://www.itfglobal.org/campaigns/messageboard.cfm

I read here and there that employees must pay for their "training course" all throughout their first year, after which they will often just get dumped. Talk about a race to the bottom !

Isn't it a bit contradictory to fight for more justice, and then take your customer euros to that kind of airline ?

by balbuz on Sat Jul 19th, 2008 at 12:19:59 PM EST
I haven't seen that website before but was aware that all was not well in terms of staff relations within and customer relations in general.  I avoid Ryanair whenever possible as do a lot of other people I know for a variety of reasons.  

I have written to Michael O'Leary in the past to complain about specific aspects of how he runs the operation - and as you can see from my letter to the Editor above have called for his resignation in public.

Unfortunately many people in Ireland and elsewhere see him as a champion of consumer rights because before Ryanair came on the scene - 15 years ago - it cost £300 to fly from Ireland to England and so he has made air travel a lot more affordable for a lot of people.

Aer Lingus used to be  a cosy cartel of more benefit to its staff than to its customers, and in that context many people see the arrival of Ryanair as a good thing.  I have no doubt Ryanair would charge very high fares if they did get into a monopoly situation and I am under no illusions as to them being a champion of consumer (or employee) rights.  

The only good thing you can say about the situation is that I understand some Ryanair staff use it as a training ground to get into the industry, and then move on to better paying Airlines with better conditions.  Ultimately I think his aggressive policies towards everyone and anyone are counterproductive which is why I think he should go.


"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jul 19th, 2008 at 01:48:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Airline emissions 'far higher than previous estimates'

By Cahal Milmo
Tuesday, 6 May 2008

The aviation industry claims the contribution of flying to global CO2 emissions will rise to 5 per cent by 2050. Critics claim the true figure will be much higher

The aviation industry's failure to curb its soaring carbon emissions could lead to the "worst case scenario" for climate change, as envisaged by the United Nations.

An unpublished study by the world's leading experts has revealed that airlines are pumping 20 per cent more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than estimates suggest, with total emissions set to reach between 1.2 billion and 1.5 billion tonnes annually by 2025.

The report, by four government-funded research bodies, is one of the most authoritative estimates of the growth of pollutants produced by the industry. It was presented to a conference co-organised by the United States' Federal Aviation Authority but not given a wider audience.

Combining data produced by the leading emissions-modelling laboratories in the US, Britain and France, the study found that the number of people seriously affected by aircraft noise will rise from 24 million in 2000 to 30.3 million by 2025, despite the introduction of quieter jets, and that the amount of nitrogen oxides around airports, produced by aircraft engines, will rise from 2.5 million tonnes in 2000 to 6.1 million tonnes in 2025.

Jeff Gazzard, a spokesman for the Aviation Environment Federation, the group that uncovered the report, said: "Growth of CO2 emissions on this scale will comfortably outstrip any gains made by improved technology and ensure aviation is an even larger contributor to global warming by 2025 than previously thought. Governments must take action to put a cap on air transport's unrestrained growth."


I seem to recall seeing concerns about the locations of the release of aircraft emissions, CO2, VOCs and NOx at high altitudes and that this was more damaging than surface emissions.  Couldn't find a reference though.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Jul 19th, 2008 at 10:41:27 PM EST


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