Thomson Airways’ test biofuels flight from Birmingham to Lanzarote is a hollow PR stunt that paves the way for rainforest destruction, Friends of the Earth warns today (Thursday 6 October) as the company launches the first UK commercial flight run on biofuels.
Thomson had originally planned to launch a series of test flights in July running on used cooking oil, but the company was unable to source enough fuel in time and had to postpone. Friends of the Earth says it would take the average person about a hundred years to save up enough chip fat to fly from Birmingham to Lanzarote on a one-way flight.
The biofuels Thomson will now use include virgin plant oil from the US and babassu nuts from Brazil. Both are very short in supply, and the charity is concerned the company will use unsustainable alternatives when it launches daily biofuel flights next year. Thomson’s parent company TUI is already looking into soya and palm oil for its Thomson Airways fleet – and these are known drivers of rainforest deforestation.
Research has shown that biofuels from crops could be causing more climate-changing emissions than they save. Friends of the Earth is calling on the Government to halt airport expansion and develop greener alternatives to flying such as better rail services to replace short-haul flights.
Friends of the Earth’s biofuels campaigner Kenneth Richter said:
"Biofuels won’t make flying any greener – their production is wrecking rainforests, pushing up food prices and causing yet more climate-changing emissions.
"It’s not surprising Thomson couldn’t find enough used cooking oil to fly to Lanzarote – it would take about a hundred years for each passenger to save up enough chip fat.
"The Government must curb future demand for flights by halting airport expansion, promoting video conferencing, and developing faster, better and affordable rail services."