Tue, May 20, 2008 - Page 6 News List

Firm wants to help jet-setters limit carbon emissions

THE GUARDIAN , LONDON

It’s the ultimate dilemma for the seriously rich with a conscience — how to enjoy private jet travel without the guilt over carbon footprints. But now a scheme has been set up that claims to allow travelers the chance to cut their carbon emissions without compromising on the luxury and sheer convenience such flights offer.

Jet-sharing, based on the kind of car-sharing scheme popular with the eco-conscious, is the latest concept to emerge from Britain’s booming market in private jet hire.

Launched by Private Jet Club, a jet brokerage company based in the City of London, the service encourages members to avoid the expense and environmental impact of hiring an entire aircraft by sharing it with like-minded individuals. Members are assured they will travel in an “economically and environmentally responsible manner”.

“A lot of people like to have a stab at the super-rich,” said Alex Hunter, director of the Private Jet Club. “They see jet travel as unnecessary expenditure and unnecessary carbon emissions. But it is necessary for people whose itinerary cannot be dictated by commercial airlines.”

Hunter said that while “bespoke travel” is on the increase — jet travel in Europe is due to increase by 30 percent by 2012, according to one estimate — those who use it are becoming increasingly environmentally aware. The economic downturn has also taken its toll.

“They can’t ignore it,” he said. “Carbon emissions are too much of a hot topic and everyone wants to do their bit. On a corporate level, people are also looking to cut costs. We are looking at one way of reducing an unnecessary number of jets in the sky.”

Environmentalists, however, are deeply skeptical about the scheme.

Jeff Gazzard, of the Aviation Environment Federation, described it as “the equivalent of taking a Rolls-Royce on the school run, and justifying it by letting the neighbors’ kids ride too.”

“Obviously jet-sharing makes a bit of a difference, but it’s not saving the planet to fly three people in a trans-Atlantic business jet when they could have done it on British Airways,” he said.

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