Just Mobility

Limitation of Flights

What's the problem?

Air traffic is the most climate-damaging form of mobility. In order to achieve a reduction in air traffic, price mechanisms are often considered first. However, if we want to achieve real climate justice, we must also ensure that our measures are fair. Price mechanisms have the disadvantage that poor people are disproportionately affected by price increases, while rich people could still afford to fly. Price mechanisms are also subject to market conditions that are constantly changing, making it difficult to estimate the absolute reduction in flights caused by price mechanisms.

What is the measure?

The concrete limitation of flights is theoretically the simplest and most effective measure to reduce air traffic and to ensure the contribution of the aviation industry to climate goals. In contrast to price mechanisms, limitations do not decide between rich and poor - they apply equally to all. Thus, limitations of flights are to be preferred from a justice perspective. The aim is to limit the number of flights on certain routes from certain airports/at certain times, as well as to ban certain types of flights that do not appear socially useful or necessary. The concrete measure consists of different parts:

  • Abolition of domestic and short-haul flights
  • Ban on night flights
  • Ban on private jets
  • Abolition of business and first class tickets

How can this be implemented?

__1. Ban on domestic and short-haul flights __ In times of climate crisis, domestic and short-haul flights can hardly be justified. An immediate exit plan and a shift to rail is therefore needed.

  • Immediate ban on flights within a distance of 4-5 hours by rail
  • Expansion of the railway infrastructure and agreement with other European countries to abolish flights within a distance of 12 hours by rail by 2023.
  • Transfer of all intra-European flights to rail by 2025
  • Exceptions for particularly poorly connected regions, as well as for people with physical disabilities.

__2. ban on night flights __ The possibility of night flights not only increases the capacity of airports, it also has a significant impact on the health of people living near airports who are affected by noise. There should therefore be an immediate ban on night flights at all airports between 10 pm and 7 am.

__3. ban on private jets __ Flights in private jets generate many times more greenhouse gas emissions and are only accessible to a small elite. They should be banned with immediate effect.

__4. abolition of first class and business class tickets __ Due to the increased space requirement, first class and business class flights have a 3-4 times higher climate effect than "normal" seats. The 1st class and business class areas can be converted to "normal" seats and thus allow a significantly better utilization of the flights.

How does this counteract climate change (or how does it create economic conditions that support effective climate protection measures)?

Limiting flights has a very direct effect on climate change. The airplane is by far the most climate-damaging means of transport - if it is replaced by train or bus, the climate impact will be reduced immediately.

What other effects does the measure have?

  • Less noise pollution for residents* and the environment
  • Fairer distribution of flights

How quickly can the measure be implemented?

Implementation can be started immediately. A ban on night flights, a ban on private jets and the abolition of 1 class ticketed aircraft can be implemented immediately. The abolition of domestic and short-haul flights can also be started immediately. Here, however, a gradual abolition and shift to rail should be planned in order to have enough time for investments in rail infrastructure.

How long does it take for the measure to take effect?

The flight restrictions will have an immediate effect. If short distances are shifted to rail, the effect will also be reflected in a change in mobility behaviour, which will probably be accompanied by a change in economic processes.

References to other measures

The limitation of flights should be accompanied by a halt to the expansion of airport infrastructure and the abolition of the tax exemption for the aviation industry, with the simultaneous introduction of a frequent flyer levy. A simultaneous change in institutional travel policies is also important.

Problems of social, global or generational justice

When abolishing short and medium-haul flights, it must be borne in mind that some regions are better and others worse connected to rail infrastructure. Especially when this measure is applied to the global context, it is important to realise that a shift to rail is much easier within Europe than on other continents. However, this is a particular argument in favour of promoting this shift in Europe.