Davos 2019: Record number of private jets set to fly into conference addressing climate change

Around 1,500 private jet flights expected for ‘Champions League final’ of charter aircraft industry

Adam Forrest
Wednesday 23 January 2019 17:02
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What is the World Economic Forum in Davos?

Experts have predicted up to 1,500 individual private jets flights will be made in and out of this year’s Davos summit, despite hosting a series of talks on the dangers of man-made climate change.

The World Economic Forum (WEF)’s annual meeting of global leaders is taking place in the Swiss resort town this week, with David Attenborough attending to offer a stark assessment of global warming trends.

But the Air Charter Service (ACS), a company arranging flights around the world, has estimated there could be a record number of carbon-emitting private jet flights in and out of Davos for the duration of the event.

The previous high was recorded at the 2018 summit.

Andy Christie, private jets director at Air Charter Service, said: “Last year was the busiest year for private jets so far, showing an 11 per cent increase on 2017, with more than 1,300 aircraft movements.

“If we see a similar increase this year, we could be looking at almost 1,500 aircraft movements over the six days.”

Mr Christie called Davos the “Super Bowl or Champions League final” of the private jet industry, and said top business leaders hated being “outdone” by rivals on the size of the aircraft.

“Top countries involved in terms of arrivals in and departures out of the local airports over the past five years have typically been Germany, France, UK, USA, Russia and UAE, in that order,” he explained.

“There appears to be a trend towards larger aircraft, with expensive heavy jets the aircraft of choice, with Gulfstream GVs and Global Expresses both being used more than 100 times each last year. This is at least in part due to some of the long distances travelled, but also possibly due to business rivals not wanting to be seen to be outdone by one another.”

The WEF's latest global risk report placed environmental challenges, including the failure to tackle climate change, as the top threat to the global economy.

Mr Attenborough offered climate warning while interviewed by Prince William

Interviewed by Prince William at Davos on Tuesday, Mr Attenborough drew a standing ovation after warning that the planet faces destruction if climate change is not dealt with imminently

“We are seeing that almost everything we do has its echoes and has its implications across the natural world,” he said. “The mechanisms that we have for destruction are so wholesale and so frightening that we have actually exterminated whole ecosystems without even noticing.”

The renowned naturalist was followed at the forum by Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, who pledged to work in “harmony with the world” to cut carbon emissions despite a previous threat to pull out of the Paris agreement on climate change.

“The environment must go hand-in-hand with development efforts: One should not of course emphasize one more than the other,” said Mr Bolsonaro.

U2 frontman Bono spoke at Davos on Wednesday morning, telling business leaders that capitalism is not immoral: “It’s amoral.”

The singer and development campaigner said capitalism has taken more people out of poverty than “any other ism” but that “it is a wild beast and if not tamed it can chew up a lot of people on the way".

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