Labels will tell passengers the damage their flights do

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The Independent Online

Bleary-eyed passengers boarding some early flights at Birmingham, Bristol and Belfast airports this morning will be confronted with a colour-coded sticker rating the damage they are doing to the planet.

Europe's biggest regional airline will today unveil what is claimed to be the world's first aircraft "eco-labelling" scheme. Flybe, which has an extensive domestic and European network, says "Passengers will then be in a position to decide, on an informed basis, whether they want to carbon-offset that journey". The airline has also introduced an offsetting scheme.

From this morning, each aircraft in the Flybe fleet will carry a colour-coded label grading it for four criteria. The first two are concerned only with the local impact: easily the most prominent is for noise, followed by CO2 emissions on take-off and landing.

Next are the key measurements associated with climate change: fuel consumption and total CO2 emissions. These are subdivided to show the impact for flights of 500km, 1,000km and 1,500km.

Britain's biggest low-cost airline, easyJet, welcomed the idea. The carrier's spokesman, Toby Nicol, said it had been calling for an industry-wide rating system for some months, and added "Their aircraft are a lot more inefficient than ours".

Flybe, based in Exeter, has taken advantage of an information vacuum: in the absence of an internationally agreed scheme on environmental impact, the airline has been able to draw up a label in which most of its aircraft perform well. Its new Q400 and Embraer 195 planes are highly rated. In contrast, the ageing BA146 and inefficient Embraer 145 jets get the poorest rating for CO2 emissions but those will be retired in two years.

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