DfT report shows public confused about airport expansion


Flight path

Whatdya think about aviation? Like the quick trips to New York to go Christmas shopping but hate the roar of jets overhead? Think we’ve broadened our horizons but terrified of climate change? Think your travel is essential but everyone else is binge flying? Then congratulations! You’re a member of the British public.

Yesterday the Government released its annual Attitudes to Aviation report, which showed that people are confused about airport expansion and climate change. Take some headline stats: 48% of people think we should expand our airports to boost the economy but 60% think we should limit expansion to protect the local environment and 56% oppose expansion on climate change grounds. 22% of people simultaneously want to expand airports and limit their expansion. At the same time.

But that’s not all. Although 50% of people didn’t fly last year, 74% though people should be allowed to travel by air as much as they like. But mention the environment and this consensus goes out the window. Just 25% of people agreed with the idea that everyone should fly as much as they like and damn the environmental impact. Confused much?

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. For decades we’ve been sold a hypermobile lifestyle, with columnists and television presenters, soap operas and celebrity magazines pretending that everyone is jetting off to Malaga eight times a year. Banks lend money for holidays (well until the credit crunch, anyway). Prime-time TV overloads on second home programmes. You haven’t cashed in on the Bulgarian housing market? What the hell is stopping you?

Newspapers are part-funded by airlines, through advertising space, travel supplements and junkets. Corporate flying is endemic, as paperclip salesmen fly from regional airport to regional airport, rewarded for polluting by frequent flyer schemes. Can’t afford the flight? Get the fake tan and pretend! Some dipshit dreamt up a GNVC in leisure and tourism. What’s next – GCSE sunbathing?

So I’m more surprised that 50% of people didn’t fly last year than that we’re confused about expansion and its climate change impact. A whole industry is dedicated to brainwashing us into air travel. But they’re losing – each year we’re more convinced that cheap flights aren’t the awesomeness they were made out to be. It won't be long before the only people flying will be those sad paperclip merchants and deluded airline executives. Good luck to them, I say.