In recent days the CEO and co-founder of Hungarian based airline Wizz - Jozsef Varadi - said it's time for airlines to ban business class, as a way to stop climate change.
"Business class should be banned. These passengers account for twice the carbon footprint of an economy passenger, and the industry is guilty of preserving an inefficient and archaic model. A rethink is long overdue, and we call on fellow airlines to commit to a total ban on business class travel for any flight under five hours,” said Varadi.
He later clarified that he taking about flights by legacy airlines of five hours or less. He made no mention of First Class which many legacy airlines still support.
Now I am not an expert on aviation and related fields but it strikes me that legacy airlines buy or lease aircraft able to perfom multiply tasks. For example – and EL AL is far from my favorite airline – depending on scheduling they may have an aircraft flying Tel Aviv/London, four hours and fifty minutes, and a couple of days later the same aircraft flying Tel Aviv/New York, almost twelve hours. How in Jozsef Varadi’s world would they balance this feat with the same aircraft? Remove and add seats, cabin areas as required or have certain aircraft dedicated to routes of five hours or less?
The idea certainly has merit and I understand that many companies around the world are continuing to embrace video conferencing and related disciplines as a way of saving money and reducing carbon emissions while promoting their “green” standing. However as we know in the real world, face-to-face meetings are still very much required. And there are numerous other examples of why video conferencing is not the sole solution.
And from experience I know that flying “cattle class” even on flights of five hours and then working a full day at your destination is demanding. Try a 12-hour flight and then start work, hold a meeting, it’s challenging.
And while I read that many of the major legacy airlines are actively pursuing “green” carbon policies, just maybe part of the problem actually lays with the budget airlines; Wizz Air, Ryan Air, EasyJet et al, who have opened the skies to low cost flight legs which at times seem to be available for just dozens of Euros only.