‘A competitive disadvantage’: Airlines respond to proposal to ban miles

Oct 15, 2019

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Airlines in the United Kingdom are responding after a report suggested that the key to reducing carbon emissions was banning airline miles and mileage runs.

Imperial College London for the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) last week published a report calling for a ban on airline miles and a levy on frequent flyers. The report suggests that emissions from one return ticket from London to New York are roughly equivalent to that of heating a typical home for a year.

“An Air Miles Levy which escalates with the air miles traveled by an individual within a three-year accounting period could provide strong price signals to curb some demand by less price-sensitive frequent flyers,” the authors wrote, “encourage shifting from long-haul to short-haul destinations and fund research into low-carbon aviation technology, while sparing the large majority of travelers any extra cost.”

The report also suggests a levy on “excessive flying” by 15% of the British population responsible for 70% of flights taken. Airlines U.K., a trade body that includes British Airways, Ryanair and Virgin Atlantic, told CNBC that the recommendations would hurt their airlines.

“U.K. aviation has a robust plan to cut aviation carbon emissions and get to net-zero by 2050 without the need to price people out of air travel or put the U.K. at a competitive disadvantage,” the trade body told CNBC on Tuesday.

And a spokesperson for U.K.’s Board of Airline Representatives, which represents most of the airlines operating in Britain, told the network that it’s “a drop in the ocean as to what can be done by the government.”

In an op-ed for The Business Travel News, Airlines U.K. chief executive Tim Alderslade noted that the industry needed to focus more on sustainability, saying that the alternative would mean being “seen as a problem child.”

“Governments — and passengers — have made it known that for aviation to continue to grow it must demonstrate it can do so in a responsible manner,” Alderslade wrote. “We get that — and are working incredibly hard to demonstrate that net-zero is the right target at the right time, and within reach by 2050.”

The report is the latest that takes aim at airlines directly for what activists see as detrimental to the environment.

James Brown, a former British Paralympian, took matters into his own hands and climbed on top of a British Airways plane preparing for takeoff at London City Airport (LCY) on October 10, according to the Independent. Livestreaming from on top of the plane, Brown said that he was protesting “against government inaction on climate and ecological breakdown.”

Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) CEO Rickard Gustafson told TPG UK in July that he believed the flight-shaming movement is responsible for the slump in Swedish air traffic, which fell over 5% in the first quarter of 2019. By contrast, passenger numbers rose by 4.4% in Europe during the same period.

Most airlines already have internal practices and plans to decrease their carbon footprint. Alaska Airlines, for instance, partners with Carbonfund.org to allow customers to offset part of the carbon footprint from their flights. And in 2007, Delta became the first US carrier to launch a carbon offsetting program for customers.

Featured image courtesy of Nicky Kelvin/The Points Guy

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.