Ryanair became the first European airline to publish its monthly carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions this week, revealing average emissions of 66g of CO2 per passenger kilometre in May.
But Ryanair’s claim to be “the greenest airline in Europe” was challenged by Responsible Travel chief executive Justin Francis who dismissed it as “false”, saying: “Ryanair is the 10th-biggest carbon polluting business of any kind in Europe.”
The carrier argued its high passenger load factor (96%) and young fleet (average age six years) delivered “the lowest CO2 per passenger/km in the EU airline industry”.
Ryanair carried 14 million passengers more than 17 billion kilometres in May.
It said its emissions per passenger kilometre had fallen 18% in the past decade and would fall a further 10% by 2030 as it takes delivery of new, more fuel-efficient aircraft, and it called on other EU airlines to publish their emissions figures.
Kenny Jacobs, Ryanair chief marketing officer, insisted: “Ryanair is Europe’s greenest/cleanest airline.
“We have the youngest fleet and highest load factors so our CO2 per passenger/km is almost half the rate of other big European airlines.
“Lufthansa, British Airways and Air France-KLM currently generate over 120g per passenger/km.”
Francis said: “Ryanair is correct in saying its CO2 emissions per passenger km are lower than competitors.”
But he said: “The vast scale and predicted growth of Ryanair outweigh these marginal efficiency improvements.
“Aviation taxes is a hot topic now. One might applaud Ryanair’s desire to see a ‘consistent and fair scheme’ or see it as a stalling tactic.”
Francis added: “We propose a Green Flying Duty, with revenues ring fenced for research and development into electric aviation – bringing forward the date at which we can fly carbon free.”