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As Airport Figures Grow, So Does the Environmental Impact



As the biggest, and perhaps most important to date climate change conference came to a close, the elephant in the room stood whistling in the corner was still ignored, that of the environmental impact of so many world leaders gathering in one place when they all choose to fly there, some, such as the UK delegates, not even sharing planes.

Air travel accounts for 2.5% of global carbon emissions. Emissions from aviation are growing faster than any other mode of transport. As the Transport and Environment Organisation points out, “Emissions from aviation are a significant contributor to climate change. Airplanes burn fossil fuel which not only releases CO2 emissions but also has strong warming non-CO2 effects due to nitrogen oxides (NOx), vapour trails and cloud formation triggered by the altitude at which aircraft operate. These non-CO2 effects contribute twice as much to global warming as aircraft CO2 and were responsible for two-thirds of aviation’s climate impact in 2018.”

Global decision makers are seemingly so concerned about raising awareness of the damage air travel causes that aviation was even left out of the Paris Agreement, although it is argued that the calls on all states to adopt “economy-wide” emission reduction targets would include aviation.

The lack of awareness drills down to the public who are also feeding this beast, choosing more flights over more sustainable forms of transport such as trains. In a survey released this week from Spanish tourists, only around 10% of people would even consider the environmental impact their holidays entail.

Here on the Costa Blanca, the phenomenon continues, as Alicante-Elche Miguel Hernández airport exceeded one million passengers in November, not only another record-breaking month but the first time in the history of the El Altet airport that such a figure has been recorded. Last month, 1,069,710 travellers were registered, which represents an increase of 18.1% compared to the same period in 2022.

With regard to the data accumulated from January to November, the Alicante aerodrome has added a total of 14,706,132 users with one month left to close the year, which represents an increase 19% compared to the same period of the previous year. Furthermore, in these same months it managed 93,408 flights, 11.1% more than in 2022.

Regarding the balance of November, of the total number of travellers computed in that month, 1,069,072 corresponded to commercial passengers, of which 913,977 travelled on international flights, which implies an increase of 19.7% over the same period in 2022. They made 155,095 on domestic flights, 9.6% more than last year.

This increase will no doubt fuel the continued calls from the business sector for a second runway at Alicante, but we must also realise that much like was in the news not too long-ago regarding Heathrow, that second runway would have an immediate environmental impact on the location and the surroundings, to make space, and the subsequent increase in damage growth.

What happens when these passengers land at Alicante airport? There is a potentially stronger argument that rather than contemplating a second runway and an increase in flights, the priority should be solving the transport infrastructure on the ground. There is no rail link, no tram, yes there are shuttle buses to places like Alicante and even Torrevieja, for example, but those services are not integrated with the bus network, which itself is fragmented. Passengers have to rely on taxis (sometimes illegal pirates), hire cars, and their own vehicles, or, to put it another way, from one of the most polluting forms of transport to another.

There has been talk in the past about connecting rail, after all, there is a railway line that skims extremely close to the facility, and there has been talk of trams, again, they do operate not too far away already, but, so far, nothing in terms of sustainable transport solutions have been put on the table, because if those relatively simple (but still expensive) links were made, where would they go?

One of the most popular holiday destinations in Benidorm, which has a tram system nearby, but the closest to the airport is the Elche system, and the two would not be linked. In between is the Alicante network, serving the north of the city. The Benidorm system doesn’t serve the centre or popular holidaymaker areas either.

The train line, although the closest in terms of readily available infrastructure, is served by the station at Torrellano, just 3 kilometres away, on the Alicante to Murcia line that covers Elche, Orihuela, and Murcia, but that will be of little use to anybody wanting a coastal destination. We should point out at this stage that Torrevieja once had a railway station, which was part of the Albatera-Torrevieja branch belonging to the Murcia-Alicante route, but it closed down in 1970.

Of course we would expect nothing less from the business sector calling for the second runway, as is the case, and for those business-centric politicians to be flying the flags on their behalf, they want more people in order to make more money, but by putting their growth ahead of the environment, they risk destroying the very scene that motivates these people to visit the area. Once a virgin forest has been trodden, it becomes less of a picture postcard scene with every additional footprint.

In terms of Alicante-Elche Miguel Hernandez Airport in November, breaking down international traffic by nationality, the countries that contributed the most passengers in November were the United Kingdom, with 380,358; Netherlands, with 77,961; Belgium, with 63,698; Poland, with 58,325, and Germany, with 53,836. In addition, the Alicante-Elche airport managed 6,963 flights that month, exceeding the air movements of November 2022 by 11.7%.

The post As Airport Figures Grow, So Does the Environmental Impact appeared first on News, Sport, Information, Property, Business in Spain – News, Sport, Spanish Property for Sale, Business Directory, Classifieds, and Advertising for Spain.



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