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BBT March/April 2019 cover
March/April 2019

ITM 2015: O'Leary calls airlines use of biofuels 'PR stunt'

Ryanair aircraft

Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary has dismissed environmental progress made by certain airlines in developing biofuels, calling it a 'PR stunt'.

Speaking at the ITM conference in St Andrews, Scotland yesterday, on the topic of change in the travel industry, O'Leary defended Ryanair's environmental record and also questioned aviation's contribution towards climate change.

British Airways has already started work on building its ground-breaking Green Sky London environmental project to create biofuel at a site in Essex, due for completion in 2017. In 2013, Virgin Atlantic won a sustainability award for its “innovative approach” to the biofuels sector.

O'Leary said: "The idea that you grow food with great cost and turn it into fuel is just nuts and this claim that we have passed peak point with oil has proven to be wrong."

The outspoken chief executive of the Irish carrier was asked about the millions of pounds other airlines are putting into developing fuel alternatives.

"It's all a PR stunt," he said. "Nobody is really flying around the world on aircraft powered by biofuel it's generally all powered on kerosene, the rest is a PR stunt designed to appeal to some middle-aged, middle-classed person worrying about the future.

"We are Europe's leanest and greenest airline as we have the youngest fleet and so burn less oil… on a per passenger basis we are burning the least CO2 emissions, but other than that I don’t really care about all that stuff."

O'Leary called taxing air travel because of environmental issues a "flawed policy"

"I do know that taxing air travel will not make a slight bit of difference to climate change and global warming, which no one can yet prove. Aviation only accounts for 2 per cent of Europe's CO2 emissions, whereas marine travel accounts for 6 per cent so instead they should be taxing shipping."

'Limitless' growth

O'Leary also spoke about Ryanair's growth and its target of flying 150 million passengers a year by 2024, with an increased focus on the corporate travel industry.

"The growth is limitless and in five years time we will be in every airport in Europe apart from Heathrow, Frankfurt and Charles De Gaulle."

He added that the airline was putting a large focus on data capture in the future and would like to share that with corporate travel agents.

Last month, Ryanair issued a statement denying it is considering launching transatlantic flights, citing a lack of aircraft availability.

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