Worried about airline pollution? Sell your car, says Ryanair boss
Andrew Clark, transport correspondent
The thorny issue of climate change has left most airlines bending over backwards to sound green. But Europe 's largest low-cost carrier, Ryanair, has dismissed its environmentally nervous rivals as "lemmings".
Ryanair's chief executive, Michael O'Leary, has refused to support an industry-wide effort to limit carbon dioxide emissions. Asked yesterday what he would say to travellers worried about the environment, he replied: "I'd say, sell your car and walk."
This week, airlines including British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, easyJet, Flybe and First Choice, formed a sustainable aviation group aimed at cracking down on pollution, noise and harmful emissions.
Mr O'Leary said Ryanair would not be joining: "A lot of members of the sustainable aviation group won't be around in 10 years' time - that'll be their main contribution to sustainable aviation."
He described the coalition as an example of "high-fare airlines getting together to pursue policies blocking competition," adding: "The sustainable aviation group, God help us, is another bunch of lemmings shuffling towards a cliff edge."
Aircraft account for about 5% of carbon dioxide emissions and air travel is forecast to double within 25 years. There are fears that cheap flights could hamper efforts to fulfil 's commitments agreed at the Kyoto summit in tackling climate change.
The aviation industry favours an emissions trading scheme, allowing airlines to buy and sell carbon dioxide allocations. But Mr O'Leary said such a scheme amounted to a plot by airlines such as British Airways to punish rapidly growing rivals.
"British Airways won't be growing its existing emission levels because it's going nowhere - it's shrinking," he said. "We will be increasing our emissions over the next few years simply through growth in traffic."
Roger Wiltshire, director general of the British Air Transport Association, said: "They obviously don't want to engage in a debate over the environment, which is rather sad."
Environmentalists were less circumspect. Jeff Gazzard, of the GreenSkies Alliance, said: "Michael O'Leary is a recidivist, serial polluter and he should be arrested for crimes against the climate."