UK statistics report a quadrupling of passengers and trebling of aviation emissions since 1980
Tue 24 Feb 2009 – Figures published by the UK Government’s Department for Transport (DfT) and compiled by the Office of National Statistics show that the number of passengers flying to, from or between UK airports has more than quadrupled between 1980 and 2007, from 50 million to 216 million per year. Passenger numbers have increased steadily during this period, although domestic flight passenger numbers have fallen over the last two years. The report also includes results from surveys that indicate 36% of the UK public believe aeroplanes contribute most from all transport modes to climate change.
In 2007, 192 million passengers arrived or departed on international flights to or from the UK while 24 million travelled on domestic flights. Almost three quarters of the journeys made on international flights were to or from points within Europe, with Spain followed by Ireland, France, Germany and Italy proving the most popular destinations.
Over the last decade, there have been marked rises in the number of air passenger journeys between the UK and the new EU member states. At 13 times the 1997 level, the largest increase was to and from Poland (4.4 million passengers in 2007), followed by Bulgaria (five times, 1 million passengers) and Hungary (three times, 1 million passengers). There were also very large percentage increases in the Baltic States, Slovenia and the Slovak Republic, but the number of journeys to and from those countries were much smaller. These statistics are confirmed by other Europe-wide reports of the explosive growth in travel to and from the former Eastern Bloc countries.
The USA, the second most popular country after Spain, was the only country outside Europe in the top ten countries (with 19 million journeys or 10% of all air travel). Since 1997, transatlantic passenger traffic increased by 19%, although there was no growth between 2001 and 2003, post 9/11.
Passenger movements between the UK and the United Arab Emirates increased from 0.8 million in 1997 to 3.7 million in 2007, and between the UK and India movements more than doubled in the same period to 2.5 million. Other major international destinations include Canada, Egypt, South Africa, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and Japan.
In 1980, 61% of UK residents’ trips abroad were by air and 39% by sea (mostly cross-Channel), whereas by 2007, 81% of these trips were by air, 12% by sea and 7% by the Channel Tunnel. The number of trips abroad by sea in 2007 at 8.5 million is 25% higher than in 1980, whereas trips abroad by air, at 56 Million in 2007, is more than five times higher than the number in 1980.
Between 1980 and 2007, the number of visits UK residents made overseas increased by four times from 18 million to 69 million, with trips to the UK by overseas residents rising, although less faster, from 12 million to 33 million in 2007.
Although visits abroad for holiday purposes and visits to friends or relatives were seemingly unaffected by the terrorist attacks of 9/11, those for business have only recently recovered beyond their pre-2001 levels. In 2007, business visits abroad by UK residents accounted for 13% (9.0 million) of all visits, whereas in 1980 this was 15% (2.7 million visits). Conversely, the proportion of business trips to the UK by overseas residents increased from 21% (2.6 million visits) of all inbound trips in 1980 to 27% (8.8 million) in 2007.
The DfT report, ‘Transport Trends: 2008 Edition’, also records carbon dioxide emissions by transport for the 1980-2006 period.
Emissions of CO2 from transport sources, excluding international aviation and shipping, increased from 85 to 117 million tonnes between 1980 and 1990 but the rate of growth has since slowed mainly due to technological improvements and the use of cleaner fuels in road transport. The vast majority of CO2 emissions from transport sources are still from road transport – 92% in 2006, the same as in 1980.
Since levels of CO2 from non-transport sources have fallen since 1980, transport’s share of total emissions increased from 14% in 1980 to 23% in 1997, and had remained around that level since, until it reached 24% in 2006.
Emissions from domestic shipping peaked in 1991 before steadily declining until 2002 but then increased again to reach a new peak in 2006. Emissions from domestic air flights have nearly trebled since 1980 but still make up less than 2% of all domestic transport emissions.
Carbon dioxide emissions from international aviation more than trebled between 1980 and 2006, whereas emissions from international shipping fell by 2% between the same period.
The report also carries statistics compiled by the DfT that show the number of people subjected to high levels of noise from aircraft in the Heathrow area has fallen since 1990, despite a 29% increase in air transport movements at the airport. In 1990, the 57 Leq contour (the assessment of community response to aircraft noise, 57 Leq representing the onset of disturbance) covered 488,000 people compared with 252,000 in 2007, a fall of 48%. The number of people within the 63 Leq contour (moderate disturbance) fell by 62% to 45,000 and those within the 69 Leq contour (high disturbance) fell by 86% to 4,000.
Similar noise statistics are provided for five other major English airports: Manchester, Birmingham, Gatwick, Luton and Stansted.
Lastly, the report carries the results of surveys carried out by ONS between August 2006 and February 2008 in which members of the public were asked to consider the causes of climate change, including the role of transport. The most commonly cited cause of climate change by far was road transport emissions, mentioned by around 70% in each survey. This was followed by emissions from planes, mentioned by around 40%. Emissions from power stations, ‘other CO2 emissions’ and the burning of fossil fuels for energy were selected by around three in ten respondents.
Asked which mode of transport they felt contributed most to climate change, the public were most likely to choose aeroplanes or cars. In August 2006, 35% selected aeroplanes, which rose to 40% in both April and August 2007, but in the latest survey the figure fell back to 36%. There has been a downward shift in cars over time – 34% selected cars in February 2008 compared to 39% in August 2006. In February 2008, 54% selected some form of road transport.
When asked which types of activities respondents were likely to undertake in the next 12 months due to concerns about climate change, around a fifth mentioned reducing flights, including using other forms of transport instead of flying.