A year ago Silverjet, the Luton-based all-business class airline, announced it would be the world’s first carrier to go carbon neutral.
In a blaze of publicity Silverjet said it would include a mandatory carbon offset fee to the Carbon Neutral Company with every ticket it sold. But one year on and the innovative scheme has quietly been dropped: travellers booking Silverjet flights to New York Newark or on the recently launched Dubai service can now opt out of paying the offsetting fee. For Luton-New York return, passengers are being asked to pay £19.98, while the rate for Luton-Dubai is £23.06.
Silverjet blames the government’s hike in APD (Air Passenger Duty) fees for its decision. When Silverjet took to the skies last January, passengers paid a lower APD fee of £20 because of a quirk in the rules allowing all-business class carriers to charge the APD rate for an economy flight.
But this loophole was closed in the recent Budget, and passengers booking one-class carriers like Silverjet, Maxjet and Eos now have to pay the full rate of £80 just as if they were flying British Airways or Virgin Atlantic out of Heathrow.
Lawrence Hunt, CEO of Silverjet, says: “Following an internal review and advice from environmental experts, we feel that with the doubling of APD as well as growing recognition for the ‘polluter pays’ principle, it is right for us to offer an opt-out option for our own carbon offsetting scheme and let customers decide whether they wish to pay the extra amount.
“We have stated on many occasions our deep disappointment with the APD levy and believe it to be a blunt instrument. Since we announced our launch in 2006 APD has increased from £20 to £80 and to date the government has provided no evidence that the £1 billion of funds raised from the duty are being used to offset aviation emissions.”
Sue Welland, founder and creative director of Carbon Neutral Company, adds: “We support Silverjet’s decision to offer customers the opportunity to opt out of its Carbon Neutral scheme as it is in line with our belief in the ‘polluter pays’ principle.”
For more information go to flysilverjet.com.
Report by Alex McWhirter