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The growing private jet industry

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According to the European NGO Transport and Environment, the passenger of a private jet pollutes up to 14 times more than the traveler of a commercial aircraft.

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As the Super Bowl approaches, private jet users are under the spotlight…and criticism. In Las Vegas, which will host the high mass of American football on Sunday, there is even a lack of space in the airports to store all the private planes of the most well-off spectators. While environmental organizations are calling on states to regulate this industry, aviation giants say they are becoming more eco-responsible.

In terms of pollution per kilometer/passenger, it is clearly the worst means of transport. In the midst of a climate crisis, we must drastically reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and the opposite is happening with private jets, immediately deplores Patrick Bonin, head of the Climate-Energy campaign at Greenpeace Canada.

At Saint-Hubert airport in the suburbs of Montreal, there were 7,600 private flights in 2023. On average, this represents 20 arrivals and departures per day.

Air transport growth is sustained and rapid. In Montreal, we even have higher growth than the rest of the world, and this is also true for private aviation, whether for private jet owners, hockey teams or touring artists, supports Simon-Pierre Diamond, vice-president of Corporate Affairs, Communications and Marketing at the airport.

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Patrick Bonin is responsible for the Climate-Energy campaign at Greenpeace Canada.

On the side of the aircraft manufacturer Bombardier, we are also observing a craze for business jets. This craze grew during the pandemic, as wealthy clients sought greater security during a period when it was necessary to distance themselves from others.

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There are many more people who have taken steps [during the pandemic] to try private aviation, for the benefit of the productivity it gives in terms of travel time, but also in terms of safety.

A quote from Mark Masluch, Senior Director of Communications at Bombardier

Its number of private plane deliveries has jumped from 123 in 2022 to 138 in 2023. And for 2025, the company Montreal is counting on a target of 150 deliveries.

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Every year, around 500 private planes are sold worldwide, says Bombardier, which holds around a quarter of the market globally.

According to the European NGO Transport and Environment, the passenger of a private jet pollutes up to 14 times more than the passenger of a commercial plane. Despite this statistic, Bombardier defends its balance sheet and ensures that it reconciles the environment and productivity.

We are in a time of great transition towards an eco-responsible philosophy in the design of our planes, says Mark Masluch, senior director of communications at Bombardier.

The latter explains that the manufacturer has reviewed the design of its devices and created research partnerships with universities with the aim of improving propulsion and aerodynamics.

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Mark Masluch, senior director of communications at Bombardier

The evolution of building a business jet has spawned many thinking about recycling materials and reducing them, says Masluch. If we look at our flight activities in 2022-2023, we emitted 25% less carbon dioxide.

How? Because Bombardier uses a greener alternative fuel, sustainable aviation fuel better known by the acronym SAF.

This fuel comes from waste oils, plants and soy. According to several studies, the environmental impact of SAF is much less than traditional kerosene, explains Mehran Ebrahimi, professor in the Department of Management at UQAM.

According to Mehran Ebrahim, aviation produces only 2% of GHG emissions globally, and of this number, only 2% of GHGs are emitted by business jets. In total, they therefore only emit 0.04% of emissions.

There is an increase [in the number of private flights], but it is not so much a phenomenon that we notice. […] It's important to put this into perspective, puts into perspective the one who is also director of the International Observatory of Aeronautics and Civil Aviation.

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Mehran Ebrahimi, director of the International Observatory of Aeronautics and Civil Aviation

The aeronautics expert believes that The business jet industry should focus on SAF in the short term to reduce its emissions. The latter also recalls that the aviation industry has committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2050.

Business jets are always an opportunity to develop greener technologies that will then be used in commercial aircraft.

A quote from Mehran Ebrahimi, professor in the management department at the x27;UQAM

But according to Greenpeace Canada, the solution to reducing the industry's carbon footprint must involve stricter regulations .

Governments should stand up and ban the use of private jets which are not necessary in our society while we are in a climate crisis, insists Mr. Bonin.

Since 2022, Canada has imposed a 10% luxury tax on the sale of private jets, but like the United States and Europe, it There are no restrictions on their movement.

With information from Charlotte Dumoulin

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