Flight Shame Is Yet To Hit Latin America – Here’s Why

The flight shame movement, or flygskam, is still a very European thing. Maybe it is starting to appear in the USA. But, in Latin America, the Greta effect is still a distant problem. Let’s see why.

Interjet
Flight shame has not arrived in Latin America. Photo: Bernal Saborio via Flickr

Will flight shame ever arrive in the region?

At the moment, domestic flights are booming in Latin America. People in the region aren’t too worried about the impact aviation has on the climate. The fact is that, until recently, many cities in the region were unserved. Now they are finally getting the benefits of aviation, people want to fly.

The two most important countries in the region, Brazil and Mexico, had great numbers in the year-to-year comparison of domestic growth. Airlines such as Azul, GOL, Volaris, Interjet and Viva Aerobus had a great 2019 in terms of passengers. And, almost no one complained about the impact on the environment. 

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But it is not only the people. Also, governments in Latin America aren’t too worried about this topic either. Just a few countries are taking the first steps for the development of new technologies and biofuels that may help commercial aviation reduce its footprint. 

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That’s what Juan Sarmiento head of the environmental department at ALTA said last year in an interview with local media outlet A21,

“We urge Governments to send incentives to the air industry. Let’s take into account that other transport industries have developed technologies such as electric cars. These are more accessible than electric planes, as the latter will not operate commercially at least until after 2030.”

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AICM
The flight shame movement is not in the mind of Latin American travelers. Photo: Daniel Martínez Garbuno

What are airlines doing?

Airlines in Latin America are some of the youngest worldwide. The fleet in the region is just eight years old, way younger than the European and North American fleets. Also, globally, aviation is responsible for 2% of CO2 emissions. Of this, Latin America is responsible for just 0.09%. 

Currently, almost every airline in Latin America is renewing its fleet. Viva Aerobus is introducing its new A321neo planes; Grupo Aeroméxico, Copa, GOL and Aerolíneas Argentinas have big MAX orders; Avianca committed to getting rid of almost 30 airplanes while maintaining previous orders. 

Also, ALTA, the airline Association for Latin America and the Caribbean, is involved in the matter. The main topic for the ALTA Leaders Forum, which will take place in October in Colombia, will be the environment. 

Avianca A320
The main topic of the next ALTA Leaders forum is the environment. Photo: Avianca

And what about CORSIA?

Currently, just five countries in the Latin American region have signed to be a part of CORSIA. These are Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, and Jamaica. This leaves an enormous section of the continent out of the scheme that will mitigate CO2 emissions. As Juan Sarmiento said, 

“The challenges for CORSIA are the lack of experience by the local authorities in this kind of scheme; the quantification of the costs for the near and far future and the lack of independent institutions to verify its development.”

To summarize, it is not that people in Latin America don’t care about the environment. In reality, what is happening is that there is not a lot of information in the region about the impact of the air industry. 

What do you think? Will flight shame ever arrive in Latin America? Let us know in the comments. 

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Allyce Kimerling

In this article, you have ignored the fact that most of Europe has very good high speed long distance trains (and express buses), which many Latin American countries do not. There are long distances between major cities in many South American countries. If there’s a choice between 6-8 hours on a slow bus and an hour on a plane, the flight seems obviously preferable.

Joanna Bailey

Of course, and you make a good point. However, I’m seeing flight shame in action here in the UK, and we are an island – no option but to fly (well, other than the Eurostar). The lack of alternatives do certainly play a part, but the main issue here, as Daniel pointed out, is that growth is the thing right now, not the environment.

Barnaby Dunkin

‘Greta Effect’ … Just shut it and go back to school you silly MOO!

Josip

It will arrive sooner or later, probably in next 15-20 years.

Johnny Lopez

Flight Shame or Awareness. Fo sure, It is already here in Costa Rica. And i am sure already in Mexico and Guatemala as well. Soon Panama will join, and the rest of Lat. America.

Jana

If it does it will not be in any meaningful way. Even in Europe it is not having a meaningful impact. Any reduction in air travel can be due to other factors. Further, air travel is expected to increase substantially worldwide over the next decade. The interest in travel increases as incomes go up ( see China, India). So far the flight shaming thing seems to consist of self reported anecdotes. That doesn’t suggest a movement as much as certain individuals making individual choices. The convenience in terms of time savings that flying offers is unlikely to be overcome en… Read more »

Guilherme

I live in Brazil and I don’t see it coming here. There is simply no way to travel quickly without airplanes. Between the two main cities in the country (RJ-SP) the bus trip takes about 6/8 hours.