Aviation Carbon Emissions, Route Choice and Tourist Destinations: Is Flying Non-Stop a Remedy?

Authors: Neil Debbage*, University of Texas - San Antonio, Keith Debbage*, University of North Carolina At Greensboro
Topics: Transportation Geography, Sustainability Science, Environment
Keywords: Aviation, Carbon Dioxide Emissions, Tourism
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Empire Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Air travel emissions comprise 20% of tourism’s global carbon footprint while the United States accounts for half of all carbon-dioxide emissions from airplanes around the world. The purpose of this paper is to determine whether or not flying non-stop, rather than connecting through an airline hub to reach a tourist destination, can mitigate the carbon emission impact of air travel. Based on data collected through the International Civil Aviation Organization carbon calculator, we analyze the geography of aviation-related carbon emissions for passengers originating from the ten most populated metropolitan areas located in the Northeastern United States. For each origin, we employed the ICAO carbon calculator to analyze emissions on the direct route to each of 13 different tourist destinations located in the Sunbelt and Western regions of the US. Additionally, we analyzed emissions for the connecting alternatives for each origin-destination pair through each of three super hub airports (Atlanta, Chicago O’Hare, and Dallas-Fort Worth). For the 520 origin- destination routes analyzed in this paper, the average CO2 (kg)/person by route nearly exceeded the annual carbon emissions budget for all forms of transportation (including daily commuting). Although direct routes tended to outperform connecting routes regarding carbon emissions efficiencies that was not always the case.

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