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Flight Shaming and Greta Thunberg Are Impacting Air Traffic Growth

Flight Shaming and Greta Thunberg Are Impacting Air Traffic Growth
Jackie Reddy

Once the preserve of the wealthy and now a mundane mass market activity, a survey by UBS has revealed that concern over the environmental impacts of flying is having a real effect on the growth of the passenger aviation industry. Should the current trend continue, passenger growth could be halved.

With the passage of time, the act of flying has evolved from being the preserve of a wealthy few to a mundane mass market activity, but as the BBC reports, it would appear that air travelers are now beginning to think long and hard before booking their fares.

Citing a survey conducted by Switzerland-based bank UBS in July and August, the outlet reports that concerns over the environmental impact of flying are having a noticeable effect on the global aviation industry. Overall, it said that, “After surveying more than 6,000 people in the US, Germany, France and the UK, UBS found that 21 percent had reduced the number of flights they took over the last year.”

The survey also indicates that the awareness of the impact of flying on the environment–as raised by the likes of environmental activist Greta Thunberg–and the Swedish idea of flygskam, or flight shame, also have an impact on mass air travel.

According to these findings, 27% of those surveyed also said that they would consider reducing their flying habits for the sake of the environment.

The results of the survey further revealed that 24% of American travelers are concerned enough to rethink think about how and when they fly.

Should these trends continue, the passenger growth figures–which have been increasing between 4% and 5% a year–could be halved.

Offering her comments on the results, UBS analyst Celine Fornaro told Reuters, “With the pace of the climate change debate, we think it is fair to assume that these trends are likely to continue in developed markets.”

[Featured Image: Flickr/European Parliament]

View Comments (18)


  1. closecover

    October 2, 2019 at 3:12 pm

    That’s great – more seats available for reward redemptions!

  2. sfoeuroflyer

    October 2, 2019 at 3:38 pm

    Greta? Really? Would anybody pay any attention to a programmed little puppet? Someone is paying for her rants and coaching her. These manipulators and handlers figure that since she is a little girl nobody will dare criticize her. Wrong. The whole “Greta Industry” is detestable. Her 15 minutes are over. Oh. I forgot. Just how did she get the UN stage? Hmmmm. Guessing she flew on a plane with that ticket they bought her.

  3. OverTheHorizon

    October 2, 2019 at 3:43 pm

    I think it would be fairer to say MIGHT have an impact.

    People like to appear “good” when answering survey questions, I wonder how many respondents will actually be able to resist pressure from family & friends to take that cheap flight to the sun ?

    I suspect that in reality the impact will be modest and over a long period (and will be canceled out in any case by strong passenger growth in Asia).

  4. OUTraveling

    October 2, 2019 at 4:10 pm

    I sincerely hope more people decide to book a room on a cargo ship to get to their destination or consider train hopping. That should cut down on gate lice and lounge crowding.

  5. CPH-Flyer

    October 2, 2019 at 4:40 pm

    @sfoeuroflyer, she took a sailboat across the Atlantic going to New York. I have not seen a report on her return journey, but I would guess the same.

  6. nearlysober

    October 2, 2019 at 4:52 pm

    The industry is increasing yes – more flights, more passengers, more fuel being used.

    However that growth has also encouraged the industry to adopt more fuel efficient planes & designs. Supply & demand. Cutting back spending on aviation will just cut back on investments in green tech in the industry.

    As long as consumers push for green initiatives, and reward green tech with their dollars… pair that with the industry looking for every method possible to save on operating (fuel) costs – the industry should continue to grow.

  7. BJM

    October 2, 2019 at 5:20 pm


    Please provide evidence to back up your accusation.

  8. Occupationalhazard

    October 3, 2019 at 8:49 am

    So Greta came over on a yacht…but several people will be flying in to NYC to take it back (may have already) and the Captain of the voyage home will be returning to Sweden by plane.

    IOW, it was all a stunt.

  9. J S

    October 3, 2019 at 9:56 am

    Please enjoy the Greta Thunberg Helpline.

  10. Dublin_rfk

    October 3, 2019 at 10:17 am

    @CPH-Flyer The little puppet sailed over to the New World on with a little wind driven boat. The same little boat and it’s captain flew back home in 1st class! (As reported in the newspapers)

  11. kaizen7

    October 3, 2019 at 12:42 pm

    I do wish that I can have enough holiday to sail to the destination AND have enough time to have the holiday at the destination AND also have extra time to sail back home ….
    Not counted that I have to prepare few million euro to buy such boat in the first place.

    About her crews, why don’t she just sail back Sweden with the same crews that accompany her to the US?

  12. FlyingNone

    October 3, 2019 at 1:21 pm

    People are no “less” or not going to fly than they would give up driving their cars. Greta, what’s your take on driving (any) vehicles – cars, buses, trains, trams, etc ? The do use fuel you know.

  13. CaptHolic

    October 4, 2019 at 2:19 am

    I would say a good start for Greta evidence being proved a programmed little puppet was after her emotion filled lecture. She was directly questioned about her opinions and she couldn’t muster up a single sentence. If it was not already on a piece of paper to read from, she was literally speechless…
    Someone with 1/4 of her “emotional” stance on any given subject could at least offer up their own personal opinion for the argument at hand. Or am I wrong?
    After the below failed interview she was pulled aside and given some more words to use next time she was asked a Q…

  14. crwander

    October 4, 2019 at 4:46 am

    I’m not going to stop flying and I’m not going to feel guilty about it. There’s a difference between air transportation and the imprudent use of air transportation. Quite often, air travel is the best choice, and Yes, it can be an ecologically sound choice. Trains and sailboats are great… if you have access to them and if you can make your schedule fit them. If you’re lucky, you can cross the Atlantic in a sailboat in 2 weeks. How many people have an additional 4 weeks to spare for the round-trip journey if they want to visit the Americas, Europe, or Africa?

    I applaud Thunberg for her overall efforts in fighting for our Earth, but flight-shaming and asking people to give up air travel is absurd. Even if it did work, it would contribute heavily to isolationism and xenophobia… something we should not be encouraging.

    I’ll continue to travel by air when it’s the best choice for the journey.

  15. strickerj

    October 4, 2019 at 9:50 am

    How do we figure that 21% of European survey respondents saying they had reduced (not eliminated) flying out of concern for the environment (bearing in mind people tend to lie on surveys) correspond to global air travel growth being cut by half? Really I can’t see any way this headline isn’t BS clickbait.

  16. OCJohn

    October 5, 2019 at 12:33 pm

    since most tourists do not get to Sweden in kayaks, Sweden might want to think twice about “flightshaming,” not to mention that the whole climate hysteria is just an excuse for more government control which ignores the actual science and historical record that global temperatures have been ebbing and flowing for thousands of years before fossil fuel use. Just plant more trees to suck up carbon dioxide and relax

  17. simpleflyer

    October 5, 2019 at 4:46 pm

    Have to second strickerj. I am reminded of those charity TV shows that have people call in to pledge money. What counts is if they actually commit to their pledges.

    BTW, have those billionairres who pledged money to Notre Dame rebuilding program paid up yet?

  18. eagle215

    October 6, 2019 at 10:11 am

    I`ve done my part for the environment by not having children. I will fly as I please in J class!

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