Ultra-rich private jet travel has soared since the pandemic – and emissions followed

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The private jet sector has boomed since the start of the pandemic, reveals a report from the progressive think tank Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) and nonpartisan organisation Patriotic Millionaires. While there was a drop in private flights in 2020, the sector picked up quickly again and saw an unprecedented number of 5.3 million business jet operations in 2022.

Compared to 2019, the number of flights globally and in the US increased by around a fifth last year. A 2022 study found that because of the increased flights, private jet emissions have increased by 23%. In the last two decades, the global private jet fleet size increased 133% – from 9,895 in 2000 to 23,122 in mid-2022.

Private jet travel is reserved for the few. The typical private jet owner has a net worth of $190m, according to the report. Since private jets emit at least ten times more than commercial planes per passenger, these ultra-rich private flyers are causing a disproportionate amount of emissions.

Awareness about the environmental costs of private jets has been increasing, putting frequent flyers under scrutiny. Celebrity Kylie Jenner made headlines last summer when she used her private jet for a short hop of just 17 minutes, a trip that would have taken less than an hour by car. A Twitter account tracking private jet flights of celebrities – since suspended, together with a similar account tracking Elon Musk’s flights – showed that this trip was far from unusual for the rich and famous.


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