Airline CEO Wants To Ban Business Class

Filed Under: Other Airlines

With environmentalism being an increasingly hot topic, we’re seeing lots of suggestions for how emissions can be reduced in the airline industry, including some climate activists calling for frequent flyer programs to be banned.

One aspect of this debate that I find amusing is how some airline executives campaign for new environmental policies that very conveniently would only harm their competitors.

Wizz Air CEO Wants To Ban Business Class

The CEO of Wizz Air, Jozsef Varadi, is calling for business class to be banned on most flights in order to reduce carbon emissions.

Wizz Air is an ultra low cost carrier based in Hungary, and they claim to operate with the lowest per passenger emissions among their competitors. They also say that they hope to reduce per passenger emissions by more than 30% in the next decade.

As Varadi explains:

“Business class should be banned. The industry is guilty of preserving an inefficient and archaic model. A rethink is long overdue, and we call on fellow airlines to commit to a total ban on business class travel for any flight of under five hours.”

So his argument is basically that business class should be banned because per person emissions are so much higher. And he’s not wrong that emissions are higher.

The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) found that British Airways had 63% more emissions per passenger kilometer than rival Norwegian. Specifically, for premium seats emissions were an average of up to 2.7x higher.

It’s especially funny that Wizz Air’s CEO only wants to ban business class on flights of under five hours. Conveniently, that’s how long Wizz Air’s longest flights are. Shouldn’t business class be banned on long haul flights, where seats take up a lot more space, and where the emissions are even greater due to distance traveled?

Lufthansa CEO Wants To Ban Ultra Low Cost Carriers

As I said at the beginning of the story, airline CEOs clearly have vested interests in this battle. Over the summer, Lufthansa Group CEO Carsten Spohr essentially argued that Europe’s ultra low cost carrier business model shouldn’t exist.

He described selling tickets for less than 10EUR as “economically, ecologically, and politically irresponsible, and said that “flights for less than 10EUR shouldn’t exist.”

Again, rather conveniently, Lufthansa is facing huge pressure from ultra low cost carriers in their home markets. Furthermore, their ultra low cost carrier, Eurowings, isn’t exactly doing well, and can’t compete with the cost structures of the airlines selling these really cheap flights.

There’s No Right Answer To All Of This

These are all discussions worth having, though ultimately no one is right here. It is always amusing to see how airline executives make arguments about what should be banned, and it just also typically happens to be whatever their competitors are doing.

In fairness, not all airlines are doing this — KLM has even encouraged people to fly less, and take the train instead.

Should business class be banned? No, I don’t think so. Should ultra low-cost carriers be banned? No, I don’t think so. But I do think we should be more conscious — airlines should invest in more fuel efficient aircraft (and be given incentives to do so), and passengers should be educated about the implications of their travel.

In the same way that someone doesn’t “need” to fly in business class, someone also doesn’t need to take most of the trips that are taken. Ultra low cost carriers create demand for air travel with fares that are often the same price as a bus ticket. So it’s hard to point fingers here.

What do you make of the statements of Wizz Air’s CEO? Which airline CEO is more right here?

  1. Aviation is responsible for only 2% of whatever the greenies chose to bitch about today. I am sure that is a lot less than the emissions from all the coal-fed power stations generating electricity for electric cars. I respect the concern for the environment but aviation is not the reason the greenies don’t have fresh air to breathe.

  2. Just ban the LCC’s. It will reduce air traffic and carbon footprint by at least half.
    Half the travellers will also decongest security and immigration lines. Airports would become pretty, uncrowded places. Even TSA would get more time to be friendly.

  3. Lucky, I’m a regular traveller (although don’t fly as much as you) and want to reduce my impact on the environment. Do you have any tips for me? For example, do you have any advice on offsetting your carbon emissions or making more conscious decisions about the implications of our travel as you mention in the article?

  4. Most European airlines with business class operate with a flexible cabin and economy seats with the middle one blocked. He can say what he wants. No going to happen
    … If wizz air buy 777s or a350s and start operating longhaul

  5. @chris
    I took your challenge and tried my best to calculate the world-wide carbon emissions from charging electric vehicles. Had to make some assumptions. But there appear to be about 7 million plugin cars sold in the world in the last 5 years and I came up with 14 million tons of carbon emissions generated to create the electricity for them annually. That’s 0.04% of the worldwide footprint.

  6. Well, no disrespect but I don’t think these are conversations worth having. I think these calls to ban are silly and obviously self-serving and should be ignored.

  7. Well, the first people who should probably fly less are travel bloggers… who literally only fly in order to fly. If you actually want to get somewhere in order to visit or work, then that should be your right.
    Business class costs so much more, which in my eyes makes it ok for the footprint to be larger.

  8. “ultimately no one is right here.”

    On the contrary the right answer is for airlines (and other businesses) to be called out for making self-serving appeals for government protection from competition under the guise of public good.

  9. Ugh all our fun sacrificed at the altar of the false gods of climate change. It’s starting to feel like a climate change inquisition

  10. Finally, all of the enviro propaganda gets unmasked for what it really is – a big-business cash grab, in bed with world government. Spare the climate-change moralizing for China and India.

  11. As my 1.5 inch thick ribeye is resting, I just have time to observe we should immediately ban all building. Drying cement is a significant contributor to co2 emissions.

  12. The rampant hypocrisy of the New Green Foolishness is hilarious if you step back and look at it logically.

    From yesterday’s news:

    “Environmental Crusader’ Arnold Schwarzenegger Warns: ‘Fossil Fuels Will Kill Us’

    Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-Calif.) warned young people that “fossil fuels will kill us” if the U.S. doesn’t switch to renewable energy. The Terminator actor said millions of people die each year because of pollution.”

    He said this at the National Press Club on Tuesday. How did he get there? No, not in his Hummer, nor his tank. (Yes, he owns a tank). He drove there in a humongous Chevrolet Suburban SUV. I looked it up, and it’s overall mileage estimate is 16 miles per gallon. 😉

    Also gotta love Arnold calling CO2 “pollution”. It may or may not cause “climate change” (sic), but it’s not pollution. It’s plant food. People who grow crops in greenhouses pump CO2 into them to increase plant growth. Someone should explain to him that breathing is the process of taking in oxygen, and exhaling CO2. So if you want to stop Co2 “pollution” the solution is obvious; just stop breathing.

    Then there is AOC, who wants to replace airplanes with trains for the rest of us, but commutes from Washington to her NY home by, yes, plane. Despite the only decent Amtrak line in the country being the DC/NY express line, she flies, which takes as long to get there as it would take going by train.

    The USA is the only country in the world that has been reducing it’s CO2 output. We are doing it by replacing old style coal burning power plants with new natural gas plants. We are doing that, not due to “Climate Change” concerns, but because the widespread use of Fracking is producing huge quantities of cheap natural gas.

    Elizabeth Warren has said if she is elected, one of her first actions as POTUS would be to issue an executive order banning fracking. Making coal fired plants cheaper again, and forcing us to send Billions of dollars to Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar to buy oil and gas from them. At which point you could forget about the proposal to convert long haul trucks from diesel to cleaner burning natural gas. This sort of foolish thinking used to be known as “shooting yourself in the foot” before it started being called “Climate Activism”….

  13. There’s no need to ban anything. Add in the cost of externalities into ticket prices in the form of taxes or fees and the market will sort itself out.

  14. By that logic, As people in US on average emits twice and 5 times carbon as China and India. US should be banned

  15. I have mobility limitations. I use a wheelchair for long distances, providing me some freedom. Lie flat business class for long haul flights allows me to travel without exacerbating or aggravating my health issues. I am not the only person with ability / health challenges who flies business class for this reason.

    Yes, it costs more but and I factor this in to my life accordingly. I am not and have never asked anyone else to pay for my ticket.

    Could I use surface travel? Can’t anyone? But the cost, distance and time required are prohibitive.

    Therefore, I vehemently disagree with Wizz Air’s CEO.

  16. I’m glad nobody wants to ban First Class. No complaints about AirMika’s suggestion about banning volcanoes, war, and termites (wish we could). Frog’s suggestion to add the external costs to the ticket price is spot-on. That’s the solution for most social and environmental costs. The problem is getting the majority to buy in.

  17. More emissions are generated from food production than the aviation sector.

    As I sit in my ivory tower, I propose we ban food production. Its the only (eco)logical decision.

  18. The argument that we shouldn’t worry about CO2 because it is just plant food is the dumbest fucking red herring I have ever heard. Something can have multiple effects.

    During a glass of water and it’s a nice refreshing way to combat dehydration, fill your lungs with water at the bottom of a swimming pool and you will die.

    There is incontrovertible scientific evidence that CO2 is a feed stock of the photosynthesis reaction that plants use to generate sugars and is the foundation for most life on Earth. Similarly there is incontrovertible scientific evidence that without CO2 this planet would be a cold barren rock because the insulating effects of CO2 prevents some of the sun’s heat from simply radiating back into space.

    There is also incontrovertible scientific evidence that increasing the concentration of CO2 (and other gasses such as methane) in atmosphere increases this insulating effect, trapping more heat Leading to a devastating global rise in average temperatures, more extreme weather patterns, sea-level rise etc. etc.

    And what is this horse apples about the USA being the only country to reduce its CO2 output. It has to a certain extent, thanks to a transition to gas fired power plants (although fugitive methane emissions from fracking are a concern), from CAFE standard for cars and light trucks and from. A modest transition to to renewables. However, european countries have done a hell of a lot more and many have plans to get to net zero emissions in very short order.

  19. ROFLMAO! All of this insanity about emissions due to CO2! Does everyone understand that this underlying premise behind AGW is the Greatest Hoax upon Mankind? There is no credible empirical evidence that CO2 is The Cause of purported AGW! In fact, satellite measurements (most accurate and consistently reliable) indicate that claimed alarming rates of global temperature rises just do not exist! Instead, all of the alarmist claims are based on Agenda-driven (rather than Reality-driven) computer climate modeling that have totally failed to demonstrate any conformance to Reality, despite going through hundreds of modeling versions within USA Federal Government agencies (ie, NOAA/NASA)! We have a saying in the professional computer modeling industry about such desperate efforts —

    Garbage In ===>>> Garbage Out

    The AGW crowd constantly conflates Pollution + Weather + Climate in order to obfuscate and confuse the public about The Truth behind their Agenda! They cherry-pick narrow swaths of data that fit their narratives, while ignoring the broader swaths of data that obliterate their fantasies! They claim that the polar ice packs are melting away at alarming rates, while ignoring huge ice pack expansions in other regions. They intentionally ignore other natural physical causes of atmospheric and oceanic temperature variations (eg, sunlight output, cloud cover, regular ocean current effects like El Nino or La Nina, undersea hot spot fissures and volcanoes, etc). Besides, climate effects can only be validated over time durations of 100+ years into millennia, anyway, so how can AGW even be considered as “climate” oriented?

    Everyone must understand that the entire AGW Hoax is about Global Consolidation of Power and Re-distribution of Wealth in order to remake our world societies both Economically and Financially into a One World Governance Regime! Don’t believe me? Read what the former Chief-of-Staff to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (originator of the Green New Deal program) confessed recently about this entire AGW Hoax (remove [ ] surrounding “.”) —


    Unfortunately we have a world filled with government/industry “leaders” who are totally ignorant about real science and, instead, bow at the altar of Political Correctness like moron lemmings to worship this AGW Hoax!

    Just look at all of the insane and preposterous AGW-related rules/regulations that have resulted thus far (with even more to come)!

  20. @Ed — “There is also incontrovertible scientific evidence that increasing the concentration of CO2 (and other gasses such as methane) in atmosphere increases this insulating effect, trapping more heat Leading to a devastating global rise in average temperatures, more extreme weather patterns, sea-level rise etc. etc.” —

    This is the “conventional” thought about CO2, but it’s effects are miniscule compared to other GreenHouse Gases (GHG)! Look up at the sky … what do you see? White puffy “things” called Clouds? Made of H2O?

    It turns out that H2O is the largest component of GHG and its effects upon atmospheric temperatures vastly overwhelm that of CO2 … think about this — what is the tangible temperature differences between a sunny day and cloudy day? Easily up to 5-deg F (2.8-deg C) or more? What are those totally flawed computer climate models predicting? Something like 0.54-deg F (0.3-deg C) over decades? Are our ocean coasts disappearing yet, despite this 5-deg F variability from day-to-day? H2O will always overwhelm CO2 in atmospheric temperature effects! The day that H2O ceases to overwhelm CO2 means that our atmosphere has become devoid of H2O (and Clouds), in which case we’ve got far greater problems than worrying about 0.54-deg F temperature effects from CO2!

    As I had already posted above, assigning CO2 as “The Culprit” to purported AGW is totally fallacious and is based upon a nefarious backroom Agenda to get rid of fossil fuels as part of a One World Agenda to consolidate global power and coerce global re-distribution of wealth! There is no incontrovertible proof that CO2 is as nefarious as that One World Agenda would have everyone believe!

  21. There has been unseasonably cold weather in most of the US the last week or two. Like clockwork, out came the articles about how global warming can actually make it COLDER.

    This is how I know that most of this climate change is propaganda BS. Everything that happens is a result of climate change and nothing can happen that falsifies the theory. It gets hotter, its climate change. It gets colder, its climate change. It gets drier its climate change; wetter its climate change.

    Using these criteria, there is no way to challenge the theory of climate change. If a theory can’t be challenged and falsified, it is not a valid theory.

  22. @Grumpy Texan Travel — “… there is no way to challenge the theory of climate change. …” —

    … or we can just not dignify it as “theory,” since it actually does not qualify as such … at best it is only a “hypothesis” … and an unfounded one, at that! 🙂

  23. I am concerned about climate change but it is stupid to ban business class, frequent flyer programs, or whatever else woke culture can cook up. In the end, the problem is too many humans but no one is suggesting getting rid of us.

  24. @BillC on science is the equivalent to Kanye West on religion.

    @BillC-should we just continue on destroying the earth or do you have a solution to the transformation happening in front of us all? Venice is anxiously awaiting your response.

  25. Again some very judicious picking and choosing of science to make 2+2=5.

    Of course h20 is an important greenhouse gas but that is not what has changed over the industrial era, CO2 and methane concentrations have changed, admittedly by small amounts, but by enough to show a measurable impact on global temperatures.

    I know we’d all rather not worry about this but the evidence is overwhelming that we are in a severe global climate crisis and we’re all just fiddling whilst the world burns.

  26. Here are NRDC’s key findings for airlines to reduce their environmental impact thru biofuel — the 2017 scorecard.

    Air France, United Airlines, and Jet Blue have the best scores. Alaska Airlines, Air New Zealand, Finnair, and Thompson Airways were at the bottom scoring. Southwest, American Airlines, and two dozen others were non-responsive.

    Since there are environmental issues with biofuels, that is also addressed in the report.

  27. We need to make planes more efficient and perhaps (hopefully) get them off of petrol fuel. In the meantime – I’m flying back and forth from Newark to Singapore on SQ21/22 and it’s brutal at about 18 hours, even in business class (fun fact – these A350-900ULR planes only have business and premium economy – and only about 150 seats).

  28. @Ed — “… CO2 and methane concentrations have changed, admittedly by small amounts, but by enough to show a measurable impact on global temperatures. … the evidence is overwhelming that we are in a severe global climate crisis and we’re all just fiddling whilst the world burns.” —

    So can you provide credible scientific references to such “overwhelming evidence” that AGW is, indeed, such a “severe” crisis? Do you realize that the underlying foundations of AGW is fatally flawed?

    CO2 concentration in the atmosphere amounts to around 400-ppm while H2O amounts to around 50,000-ppm (1:125), so there is no way that CO2 can overwhelm H2O in impacts on atmospheric temperatures! Even those totally flawed computer climate models predict only a 0.54-deg F (0.3-deg C) temperature rise over many decades, at most! Let’s say that we use 50 years as a measurement timeframe and assume linear increases over that period of time — this amounts to an increase of 0.01-deg F annually. I do not think that anyone can credibly claim to be able to measure an accuracy of 0.01-deg F across the vast expanse of our Earth’s atmosphere! So there is no way that anyone can claim to have measured CO2-related impacts upon global temperatures! Common sense — H2O variations from day to day (sunny day vs cloudy day) already overwhelm with temperature variations of 5-deg F or more! That claim of “measurable impact” is totally Fake Info!

    There is no credible overwhelming evidence that we’re in any sort of global climate “crisis,” much less a “severe” one! Make sure that you are not confusing Weather with Climate, as is so commonly done by AGW Alarmists to mislead the public! Unless you have observed consistent trends/occurrences of changes over a climate timeframe (centuries to millennia), you can not claim that a climate change is in effect!

    Again … satellite measurements from space of atmospheric temperatures are the most accurate and reliable across our entire Earth, but those show no significant rises in temperature over the past decades!

    Did you read the article referenced above that revealed the confession by the former Chief-of-Staff to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (originator of the Green New Deal), about how the AGW crisis had always been a Hoax and had nothing to do with Climate at all? It was, instead, all about remaking the World Order to coerce One World Governance and Global Re-distribution of Wealth through radical Economic/Financial policies and regulations!

    Everyone should learn some Real Science and Facts about purported AGW instead of just regurgitating Politically Correct Fake Info and spreading Talking Points!

  29. Let’s push hard for more fuel efficient planes. In a rush, they can add bigger engines that will change the aerodynamics of the planes and then paper the errors over with software changes. Just look what that philosophy did for the 737 Max.

  30. @STC — “… they can add bigger engines that will change the aerodynamics of the planes and then paper the errors over with software changes. Just look what that philosophy did for the 737 Max.” —

    You do understand that there is a huge difference between Concept and Implementation, right? MCAS is a perfectly valid Concept (ie, using software within the feedback loop to control physical situations) that had already been used in lots of past systems, both commercial and military. The only problem was that Boeing did a sloppy job of Implementation on the MAX … which, of course, must (and will) be properly fixed and validated over time!

  31. What an idiot, he says this while he probably flies on his private jet to meetings,but even if he doesn’t, his argument is moronic and makes no sense at all..

  32. @Jake — “… he says this while he probably flies on his private jet to meetings,but even if he doesn’t, his argument is moronic and makes no sense at all..” —

    If you’re referring to my posts (since you didn’t address your comment Re: anyone), what part is “moronic and makes no sense at all”? Put forth some specifics and I’ll be more than happy to clarify with some facts for you!

  33. @SMH — “@BillC on science is the equivalent to Kanye West on religion.” —

    ROFLMAO! I bet you wouldn’t mind having his fame and fortune, though, right? But seriously, just how much Real Science do you think the public actually understands about AGW, when they mindlessly regurgitate AGW Alarmist Propaganda and Talking Points?
    @SMH — “@BillC-should we just continue on destroying the earth or do you have a solution to the transformation happening in front of us all? Venice is anxiously awaiting your response.”

    Let’s first make sure that we’re not confusing Pollution + Weather + Climate! Note that No One wants Pollution and its catastrophic side-effects upon Earth and Mankind (especially with respect to plastics in our oceans)! We should all do the utmost to protect our environment at all times! But such actions will not make any significant impacts upon Global Weather, much less Global Climate!

    So, for example, if the argument is that we should use less fossil fuels to reduce air pollution and improve everyone’s overall health, then I’m All In for that! But to say that banning fossil fuel use will “save the Earth from burning up” is just Totally Fake Info!

    Similarly, the recent regulations banning plastic straws might be well-intentioned, but it makes miniscule impacts upon the global crisis of overwhelming plastics waste worldwide, where USA is ranked #20 on the global list of worst plastics polluters —


    This said … I still do support coercive enforcement of proper plastics waste recycling by all countries worldwide, since USA could hypothetically reduce its plastics waste to Zero and still have insufficient impacts upon that continuing global plastics waste crisis!

  34. Here I am, arriving late to the party. (Lucky for me as I get to avoid the idiotic back-and-forth in the comments above.)

    My late contribution: since jets pollute so much, the answer is obvious: go back to propeller planes. What? Wizz Air is unwilling to dump all their jet planes and go to a propeller driven fleet? Well then, Wizz Air is not serious about fighting global warming.

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