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Airline Passengers May Have To Pay For Pricier Airfare As Global Warming Worsens

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Latest study from the University of Reading estimated that an aircraft on a transatlantic flight would have an additional 2,000 hours in the air yearly due to climate change. Plus, an additional 7.2 million gallons of fuel would be required if the transatlantic flights keep their current 600 per day schedule.

This is bad news for frequent fliers as these additional hours and fuel increase equate to ticket price surges and more flight delays. It's also bad news for the already suffering environment. Based on estimates, this could mean an additional 70 million kg of CO2 emissions.

How Climate Change Can Cause Ticket Price Surges

"Our new study finds that the jet stream winds along the flight route between London and New York are getting stronger because of climate change," said atmospheric scientist and study lead Dr. Paul Williams.

The atmospheric winds are shifting because of the temperature changes and this affects the aircrafts on transatlantic flights. For instance, flights bound for the East Coast could be longer due to stronger atmospheric winds; however, flights from New York to London can be shortened. This means that every round-trip flight across the Atlantic could be lengthened by a minute and 18 seconds.

Williams said their research only analyzed the effects of climate change on transatlantic flights. He stressed that if other flights around the world are also affected by the jet stream, longer transatlantic flights could just be the beginning. The jet stream is not exclusive to the Atlantic, it goes around the planet which means the flights around the world could be affected.

The history of the aviation industry has many failed companies and major restructuring issues especially in the early and middle 2000s. However, stronger dollar and lower fuel prices are now driving airlines to make record profits again compared to the years following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack.

The industry is pressured to lower its environmental impacts. Findings show that the industry is also subjected to consequences of climate change. The cost of fuel is a crucial factor that affects the airlines' competitiveness and greatly dictates ticket prices. The findings also suggest that the fuel cost increase could eventually raise ticket prices and drive the industry's environmental impacts even further up.

Photo: Jorge Díaz | Flickr 

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