Airways was accused of hypocrisy as the airline prepared to launch a luxury all-business service between London and New York, with just 32 seats on an aircraft normally fitted for 100 people, days after chief executive Willie Walsh pledged a drastic cut in emissions.
The twice daily service on customised Airbus A318s features flat beds and latest technology allowing passengers to send emails and text and use the internet while on board.
Flights leaving from London though will be forced to make a brief refueling stop at Shannon airport in the west of Ireland because City airport’s runway is too short to handle an A318 aircraft with a full fuel load.
Greenpeace aviation campaigner, Vicky Wyatt, said the service was “[…] Willie Walsh announced that the industry is committed to playing its part in the fight against climate change. But it is blindingly obvious that the aviation industry doesn’t intend to cut emissions at all. Rather airlines, like BA, want to pay other countries and sectors to make those cuts so that the industry can carry on with business as usual.”
Friends of the Earth campaigner Richard Dyer said the spacious layout of the aircraft meant that each passenger is responsible for around three times the emissions from regular flights.
Walsh appeared before the United Nations forum on climate change in New York last week, to unveil an agreement between airlines, airports and aircraft companies to cut emissions to 50% below 2005 levels by 2050. The plan was viewed as a bid to seize the initiative on the issue, to ensure that the industry would not be ambushed with more punishing strictures at the global warming summit in Copenhagen in December. Aviation accounts for 1.6% of global greenhouse gas emissions currently, but that figure is set to grow significantly if left unchecked
BA will be under pressure to show investors that the premium airline can be a success.
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