We live near Biggin Hill airport in the South-East of England and something that surprised and saddened me was that as lockdowns over the last 18 months got deeper and longer, the number of private jets flying in and out of Biggin Hill increased, as did the size of the private jets. I found myself standing in our garden regularly wondering to myself, “Aren’t we in a lockdown?” and “Maybe it’s not a lockdown for everyone – if you can afford a private jet, you can do as you wish!”. At other times, I was wondering “That private jet looks like the size of a 737!”
Lockdown for some
There definitely appeared to be an increase in private jet activity during the English lockdowns caused by Covid, and that really saddened me. The rest of us were confined basically to our homes, only allowed to travel a limited distance and only for a small handful of reasons. Also, we were hearing about how the major airports like Heathrow and Gatwick were effectively ghost-towns as all travel was close to shut-down. At precisely this time, the number of private jets going in and out of Biggin Hill increased. Was this a loophole for the incredibly wealthy? Did this mean that lockdown didn’t apply to people who had enough money to afford a private jet? Unfortunately, I have to assume that was the case.
All the photos shown on this page were taken with my Fairphone camera, taken quickly from my garden and highly zoomed.
Covid has helped the international elite justify the cost and convenience, with record numbers of private jet flights this year. Frankly, the biggest problem most rich people have now is securing a booking.From the Financial Times – Rich People’s Problems: Living the high life on private jets
Biggin Hill Airport started out as an RAF base that had an important role during the two World Wars. It was one of the key airports used during the Battle of Britain in World War II. Now it is a privately owned airport that has a licence limiting it to flights that have been chartered for business use or for private flying.
In this article from AIN Online, we get a hint to how business has improved for Biggin Hill Airport during this unfortunate Covid period;
While overall business aviation traffic has been down across the UK, the privately-owned airport said it has maintained and even expanded market share by offering flexibility for operators through services such as its new on-site Covid test facility for passengers and aircrew. Along with Farnborough Airport, it has accounted for the bulk of the traffic heading in and out of the UK capital.https://www.ainonline.com/aviation-news/business-aviation/2020-12-23/biggin-hill-airport-presses-ahead-expansion-plans
Biggin Hill Airport also hosts a famous airshow every year, although this was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 because of Covid.
I guess I’m concerned about two things here. One is the pollution caused by airplane travel and the other is social and economic injustice.
With the climate emergency that is fully upon us right now, air travel is very polluting and we have to limit it as much as possible. Until we have invented/discovered an effective way to control the concentration of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, we can’t afford to keep increasing emissions from aviation (or any emissions for that matter). We have to get the emissions dramatically down, and immediately. Nothing else makes sense.
Social and economic injustice concerns me deeply. Every person has the same intrinsic value as any other, but our societies don’t work that way. If you inherit substantial money, you’re more important (cannot be true). Then you get to go to privileged schools and become even more important. Then you get to run large corporations that are given government assistance, and become even more important. You might even become a politician and help set the laws to benefit the rich and powerful, and give government assistance to other “important” people like you.
This creates a cycle that increases the social and economic gap that separates the lucky few and the rest of society. Seeing the increased number of private jets at Biggin Hill highlights this gap to me. There are those (very few really) that can afford private jets end up not being affected by Covid much at all, and then there’s everyone else. Such a society doesn’t feel right, especially when the rules of the society are setup to cement this inequality and to actually increase it.
- Questions about Biggin Hill Airport – from Bromley Council
- Biggin Hill Expansion – Update – from Bromley Liberal Democrats
- Biggin Hill Airport Presses Ahead with Expansion Plans – from AIN Online
- London Biggin Hill Airport – from Wikipedia
- A Guide to Military Airshows in the UK – from www.military-airshows.co.uk
- Plane Pollution – a huge problem – from Use 10 Percent Less
- Vapor trails are not friendly – from Life in the Right Direction
- Taking care of everyone during this pandemic – from Life in the Right Direction
- Rich People’s Problems: Living the high life on private jets – from the Financial Times
Here’s a comment from a reader who’d like to remain anonymous.
‘The inequality says it all! So many have suffered during the pandemic and yet the 10 richest billionaires made $15,000 per second during that time! It will not change until the everyday people rise up and say, “enough is enough!” ‘