A Green Perspective with Molly Scott Cato, former Green MEP for the South West of England.
As evidence of the accelerating climate emergency intensifies, it is absurd to suggest that we should provide a further boost to the aviation industry. To encourage flying in this way is dangerous and irresponsible as climate change jeopardises the lives of future generations.
It is also illogical to determine the policy for a whole industry on the basis of one failing airline. It looks suspiciously like the government is using the failure of Flybe as an excuse to deliver on a dubious manifesto commitment to improve regional connectivity while conveniently blaming EU state aid rules. This is misinformation because any routes that are socially necessary could attract subsidy and be exempt under these rules.
Of course it is always horrible to be on the receiving end of redundancies. But the cold reality is that many jobs in aviation and other fossil fuel based industries simply aren’t sustainable. This is why we urgently need a Green New Deal to train workers to transition to the environmentally and socially beneficial jobs of the future.
Rather than using subsidies to artificially prop up a financially and environmentally unsustainable business, the government should transfer aviation subsidies to rail travel to increase and improve regional and local rail networks and reduce fares. A frequent flier levy would generate additional revenue to fund rail and other sustainable transport solutions while encouraging a shift away from flying.
We need to follow the example of others in Europe. Sweden has seen a decline of 9% in domestic passengers in 2019 through a concerted campaign to encourage people not to fly while Greens in Germany have pledged to make domestic flights a thing of the past if they enter government.
Far from suffering, the South West tourism industry could benefit from a general rise in the cost of flights, as more people choose to spend weekend breaks in the UK rather than in far-flung destinations.”