Ryanair challenges study that names it as most polluting airline in Europe 5 months ago

Ryanair challenges study that names it as most polluting airline in Europe

The airline has surpassed its pre-pandemic emission rates from 2019.

New research has shown that Irish airline Ryanair became Europe's most polluting carrier over the course of 2022. The airline carrier has disputed the research, though.


The analysis, which was carried out by the sustainable travel non-governmental organisation Transport & Environment (T&E), found that the Irish carrier emitted 13.3 million tonnes of carbon across the year.

These levels surpassed even Ryanair's numbers from 2019, the year before international travel was halted due to the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ryanair most polluting airline Long-haul airlines such as Air France are yet to return to their pre-pandemic levels of operation. (Credit: Rolling News)

However, despite Ryanair claiming the unwanted tag of Europe's most polluting airline, T&E did provide further context around their findings.

The organisation stated that due to greater travel restrictions still being in place in many parts of the world outside of Europe, that long-haul flights are yet to recover to pre-pandemic levels.

This lack of recovery means that larger airlines such as Lufthansa and Air France are far below their traditional standards of emissions, leaving a purely Euro-centric carrier such as Ryanair to top the emissions charts.

In 2022, German carrier Lufthansa emitted 8.7 million tonnes of carbon, just 67% of their 2019 levels. Whilst Air France emitted only 8.1 million tonnes, 16% less than in 2019 according to T&E.


Ryanair most polluting airline Ryanair have labelled the findings of the analysis as misleading. (Credit: Rolling News)

Ryanair response to being labelled Europe's most polluting airline

Attempting to offset harmful emissions caused from flying, airlines are required to pay a fee per tonne of carbon emitted.


Last year, Air France paid €7 per tonne, whereas Ryanair were hit with a fee of €44 per tonne, due the fact that short-haul carriers are seen as more harmful given their frequency.

The EU’s emissions trading system (ETS) provides the likes of countries, companies, or manufacturing plants that emit greenhouse gases the option to buy and sell these emissions amongst themselves.

However, Ryanair has labelled data from the ETS as misleading given its omission of long-haul flights.

"Long-haul flights are only 6% of the total EU flights, but emit more than 50% of EU aviation emissions, and yet they are excluded from paying ETS", a Ryanair spokesperson said.

The carrier also added that "Ryanair has the lowest CO2 emissions per passenger kilometre (66g) of any major airline, and therefore is not Europe’s top polluting airline".


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