Friends of the Earth has called on the government to launch an investigation into the aviation industry following reports that airline Flybe advertised for actors to fill their aircraft.

Reports claimed that budget airline Flybe went to extreme lengths to avoid a £280,000 penalty charge from Norwich Airport for not meeting its target of flying 15,000 passengers between Norwich and Dublin by 31 March.

Friends of the Earth aviation campaigner Tony Bosworth said: “The government must mount an urgent investigation into the Alice-in-Wonderland economics of the aviation industry.

“Extra flights are being laid on, filled with passengers that don’t want to go on them, simply to meet passenger quotas and avoid financial penalties. Ministers must find out how widespread this situation is, and prevent this outrageous behaviour from happening again.

“Aviation is the one of the fastest-growing sources of carbon dioxide emissions in the UK. This sorry episode exposes the myth that the aviation industry is taking climate change seriously. The government must take urgent action to curb the growth in aviation emissions. It must abandon plans to expand airports, and ensure that Britain’s share of international aviation emissions is included in its proposals for a new climate change law.”