by Kristian Niemietz
Institute of Economic Affairs
January 29, 2014
Opposition to air travel has never been about carbon emissions alone. Papers that criticize air travel often begin with a discussion of environmental impacts, but then morph into a critique of mass tourism. This paper recognizes the existence of externalities, both globally (carbon emissions) and locally (noise). The issue of environmental externalities, however, has already been solved, and air travelers are already overcharged for their modest environmental damage. To get the national politics out of airport investment decisions, airports have to be given a means to find an agreement with those affected by their decisions, that is, the residents exposed to aircraft noise. In addition, supporters of airport expansion should stop hiding behind an instrumental defense of aviation, and openly make the case for air travel as a leisure industry. In sum, airport expansion must be wrestled from government's hands.

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