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23rd May 2022

Europeans to fly less even after Covid-19, EU bank finds

  • Airlines were already under pressure because of their carbon footprint (Photo: Khairil Zhafri)

A majority of citizens from the 27 EU countries intend to fly less to help fight climate change even after Covid-19 related restrictions are lifted, according to a survey of the European Investment Bank (EIB) published on Monday (11 January).

Of 27,700 respondents in the EU-27, 74 percent said they intended to fly less frequently for environmental reasons after restrictions are lifted.

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Some 43 percent of EU-27 respondents said they would do this "all the time" and 31 percent said they would "from time to time". 26 percent said they don't intend to fly less, or at least not anytime soon.

And 40 percent of Europeans said the easiest was "flying" if given the choice to give up one of: flying, meat, new clothes, video-streaming services, or a car, to fight climate change.

Central Europeans have an easier time giving up flying. The figure in the region is higher: in Poland (46 percent), the Czech Republic (48 percent), Hungary (48 percent), Slovakia (48 percent) and Croatia (51 percent).

Airlines are already battling a deep dip in demand due to the pandemic.

Once travel restrictions are lifted, 22 percent of Europeans say they will avoid flying, because of climate change concerns.

Some 71 percent of Europeans prefer trains to planes for trips that take five hours or less, the survey, conducted last October and November, said.

Attached to cars

Europeans seems to be very attached to their cars. Only 11 percent of European said that giving up their car would be the easiest choice to make in order to fight climate change.

People living in rural areas (51 percent) say that giving up their car would be the hardest choice, along with people in Italy (46 percent), Slovenia (46 percent), Malta (49 percent) and Luxembourg (52 percent).

Covid-19 also had an impact on public transport: 67 percent of Europeans say they are less likely to use it because they are worried about their health due to the pandemic.

This figure is particularly high in Italy (77 percent), Romania (78 percent), Portugal (80 percent) and Malta (83 percent).

Some 18 percent of Europeans say giving up video-streaming would be the easiest option, 16 percent say that giving up meat would be the easiest, and 15 percent say that giving up new clothes would be the easiest option.

Women (20 percent) are more likely to say that giving up meat would be the easiest option, compared to men (10 percent). 66 percent of Europeans said they already eat less meat for climate reasons.

People are generally more concerned about catching the virus then the affects of climate change.

However, 72 percent of European citizens believe that their own behaviour can make a difference in tackling climate change.

Last year was ranked as the hottest on record. But Covid-19 lockdowns also meant that global emissions dropped in 2020 compared with recent years.

The EU Commission is drafting new policies to curb pollution, to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

The EIB, the EU's lending arm, is also mobilising investments in member states to help with the green transition.

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When airlines ignore refund claims, reject them or are only willing to offer vouchers or rebooking, they act against EU regulations. "In each of these cases airlines use their customers as lenders," warns one legal expert.

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Pressure is mounting for the European Commission to revise rules requiring airlines to run at least 80% of booked flights to secure their airport slots, leading some to fly so-called 'ghost flights'.

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