Just 1% Of Ryanair Passengers Offset Their Emissions

Speaking to Eurocontrol earlier today, Ryanair Group CEO Michael O’Leary revealed that just 1% of his passengers choose to offset their emissions. O’Leary suggested that there should instead be a mandatory scheme of offsetting carbon emissions across the industry.

Ryanair, Passenger Numbers, June 2021
Just 1% of Ryanair passengers offset their emissions. Photo: Getty Images

The way carbon offsetting schemes are administered across the aviation industry can be an enigma. Some airlines already include carbon offsetting in fares. Others levy an optional flat charge directly at the point of booking. Meanwhile, other carriers such as Lufthansa require passengers to go to a third-party website to complete the offsetting transaction.

Corporate passengers offsetting emissions

Speaking to a Eurocontrol Straighttalk Live session, Ryanair Group CEO Michael O’Leary revealed that just 1% of his airline’s passengers offset their emissions. O’Leary commented,

“People want low fare air travel, and people want somebody else to pay the environmental taxation. You give people the opportunity to voluntarily offset their carbon footprint. 1% of our passengers take that up. I suspect a lot of those are the corporate passengers where there’s a corporate policy of offsetting carbon footprint.”

O’Leary believes that instead, there should be some form of carbon taxation system. While taxes such as APD are touted as an environmental tax, none of it goes to helping the environment.

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Ryanair’s offsetting program

Ryanair used to charge a flat fee to offset emissions on each booking, though the airline has now moved to a proportional system depending on the length of the flight, and thus emissions generated. For example, Frankfurt to Milan attracts a fee of €0.79 ($0.89). Meanwhile, It would cost €4.82 ($5.41) to offset the much longer flight from Gran Canaria to London Stansted, with an interim option of €2.00 ($2.24) to offset emissions partially.

Ryanair, Carbon Offset, Emissions
Ryanair allows passengers to offset their emissions at the checkout. Photo: Ryanair Website

Is the answer mandatory offsetting?

Ryanair’s rival, easyJet, already offsets 100% of carbon emissions for its passengers, with the airline’s Chief Commerical Officer, Sophie Dekkers, recently telling Simple Flying that carbon offsetting should be the responsibility of the airlines and not the passengers.

The problem with mandatory offsetting is that the money for it has to come from somewhere. Looking at flight prices at the time of writing for Frankfurt to Milan on December 1st, Lufthansa is currently charging €136 ($152.69) to Malpensa, while ITA is charging €270 ($303.14) to Linate. Adding a €0.79 charge wouldn’t be so noticeable.

Ryanair, Carbon Offset, Emissions
Ryanair is much cheaper than the competition, meaning offset fees would make up a greater portion of the fare. Photo: Google Flights

Ryanair, meanwhile, is currently changing €20 ($22.46) on the flight to Milan Bergamo. Adding €0.79 to the ticket increases the price by almost 4%. This is an even higher proportion on the airline’s cheapest €4.99 ($5.60) fares.

Is Ryanair a greener airline?

Interestingly, O’Leary believes that passengers have already taken a big step in reducing their carbon emissions by choosing Ryanair in the first place. He added,

“If [passengers] are transferring down to Ryanair from Air France-KLM or Lufthansa they’re already reducing their carbon footprint by 50% by switching from a legacy airline to a low-cost carrier.”

Ryanair, Carbon Offset, Emissions
Ryanair calls itself Europe’s cleanest and greenest airline group. Photo: Ryanair

Ryanair argues that this is the case by using newer, more fuel-efficient aircraft such as the 737 MAX, which already cuts fuel consumption and emissions. However, Ryanair also crams more seats on the aircraft and makes sure they’re full where possible. This means that the lower amount of CO2 emitted is spread between more customers, cutting each passenger’s individual emissions.

Do you think passengers should be required to offset their emissions? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!