Australia

Qantas executive says flight delays caused by climate change

Source: AAP

Stronger winds caused by climate change have led to increased flight delays and cancellations over the past three years, according to a Qantas executive.

A Qantas executive is blaming the global challenges of climate change on a rising number of flight delays and cancellations across its Australian network.

The company said above ­average wind strengths had contributed to a slump in on-time performance, most notably within the past four months at Sydney airport.

"We have seen wind ­velocities 34 per cent higher than the average of the last 30 years, and it’s a prevailing westerly ­rather than the south-south-westerly we’ve seen in the past,"  Qantas Domestic chief executive Andrew David told The Australian.

Qantas group executive for sustainability Andrew Parker, left, Qantas flight attendant Madeline Rowcliff and Qantas Domestic CEO Andrew David.
Qantas group executive for sustainability Andrew Parker, left, Qantas flight attendant Madeline Rowcliff and Qantas Domestic CEO Andrew David.
AAP

"That’s led to runway closures, meaning (aircraft) movements are slowed."

Mr David made the comments during the airline’s investor day on Tuesday, where he backed a recently announced Qantas commitment to work towards zero net carbon emissions by 2050 as part of a long-term ­environmental campaign.

Greenhouse gas emissions from commercial air travel is growing faster than predicted in previous, already dire, projections.
Greenhouse gas emissions from commercial air travel is growing faster than predicted in previous, already dire, projections.
Getty

The United Nations aviation body forecasts that aeroplane emissions of carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas, will reach just more than 900 million metric tons in 2018 and then triple by 2050.

But new research by the International Council on Clean Transportation found that emissions from global air travel may be increasing more than one-and-a-half times faster than the UN estimate.

The researchers analysed nearly 40 million flights around the world last year.

"Airlines, for all intents and purposes, are becoming more fuel-efficient. But we’re seeing demand outstrip any of that,” said Brandon Graver, who led the new study.

“The climate challenge for aviation is worse than anyone expected."

Climate change activists have staged numerous protests at airports around the world this year.

Demonstrators at Berlin Tegel Airport during a protest to draw attention to the climate damage caused by air traffic.
Demonstrators block the main hall of Berlin Tegel Airport during a protest to draw attention to the climate damage caused by air traffic.
AAP

About 50 members of the group Am Boden Bleiben, German for "stay grounded", dressed in penguin costumes and gathered at Berlin's Tegel airport to protest against greenhouse gas emissions from air travel earlier this month.

While in October, a four-day protest at London City Airport led by Extinction Rebellion saw dozens of people arrested, including a former Paralympic cyclist who climbed on top of a British Airways plane as he streamed a live message online.

Qantas has been contacted for comment.

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