The move has ignited fury amongst environmentalists, who argue that there is a perfectly adequate – and significantly less polluting – train route which runs from London Paddington station.
Yesterday, Greenpeace set up a ‘climate ticket exchange’ in Gatwick airport, offering passengers booked onto BA’s new service the chance to swap their tickets for a return train ticket. Security guards attempted to remove the ‘ticket exchange’ whilst the protestors answered questions from commuters on the environmental impact of aviation.
Greenpeace campaigner, Emily Armistead, said that BA’s decision to open the route – especially in the light of a new high-speed rail link which will open later this year – flew in the face of science:
‘Planes are ten times more damaging to the climate than trains, so if we don’t do something about the growth in aviation Britain will find it very hard to meet its global warming targets,’ she said.
The campaign group argued that, when time spent checking-in and collecting baggage was taken into account, the train journey time compared much more favourably and could even work out cheaper.
The group’s comment were greeted with scorn by Chris Cain, the project manager for Newquay Airport. He told the Financial Times that Greenpeace had ‘no understanding’ of the importance of the airport to Cornish people:
‘Around 75 per cent of [Cornish] business-people who use it say it is vital to them,’ he said.
This article first appeared in the Ecologist March 2007