Clean air target could signal end to cheap fares
AIRLINES will have to put a halt to cheaper air fares if they are to meet their greenhouse gas emissions targets, an international study has warned.
Researchers say ticket prices must rise by at least 1.4pc every year for the foreseeable future to deter people from flying and ultimately reduce carbon dioxide emissions released into the atmosphere.
The airline industry's representative body, the International Civil Aviation Organisation, has previously committed to keeping global net CO2 emissions for international aviation at the same level from 2020 and to achieve a 2pc fuel-efficiency improvement up to 2050.
But the latest study, conducted by researchers at the University of Southampton in Britain, says the carbon reduction efforts will be outweighed by growth in air traffic, meaning a major shift in air fare policy will be required to meet the targets.
"The aviation sector, both in terms of passengers transported and freights transported, is predicted to grow by 4pc-5pc per year, every year, for the foreseeable future," Prof Ian Williams from the University of Southampton told the Irish Independent.
"Basically demand for transportation of people and goods by aviation is going to increase significantly, but at the same time the airlines are committing to cutting carbon dioxide emissions. Something has to give," he said.
The average fare for a Ryanair flights is €46 but the study forecasts this will jump to €52 in 2024 and €60 in 2034. The average price of a short-haul flight with Aer Lingus is €90 but this will climb to €103 in 10 years' time and to €119 by 2034.
The increase is even greater for long-haul flights where Aer Lingus's current average fare of €352 will jump to €405 in 2024 and €465 in 2034. Both airlines have dismissed the study and pointed to the fact the cost of flying has halved since the 1980s and dropped every year since 1979.
"Irish customers enjoy airfares that are amongst the lowest in Europe, primarily due to the high levels of competition between the two main carriers and the fact that both carriers have low-cost bases relative to the rest of European aviation," Aer Lingus spokesperson Declan Kearney said.
"I don't believe that Irish consumers need to be concerned with the potential for price rises resulting from carbon pricing."
Ryanair said its fares decreased by 4pc last year and said it was now Europe's "greenest, cleanest" airline.
The report says technological advances won't be able to keep up with the increases in air traffic and a global regulator is required to enforce an international agreement on carbon emissions reductions.