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Ryanair adverts banned by the Advertising Standards Authority for carrying 'misleading' CO2 claims

Ryanair’s latest advertising campaign claiming that it is Europe’s “lowest emissions airline“ has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), which has branded the statements “misleading”.

Europe’s biggest airline started running the adverts in the press, on TV and on the radio last year, billing itself as a “low CO2 emissions airline”.

However, the campaign quickly stacked up complaints from consumers who argued that airlines, by their very nature, are not “low emissions”.

The carrier based its claims on data from the European aviation organisation Eurocontrol and airline efficiency rankings produced by Brighter Plant.

It argued that its “low emissions” credentials stem from its young, more efficient fleet of aircraft and its high load factor (how full a flight is) of 97 per cent on average.

However, the ASA took issue with some of the assertions due to the evidence used to back them up.

One of the airline efficiency rankings used by Ryanair to support its claims was from 2011. 

The ASA ruled it “was therefore of little value as substantiation for a comparison made in 2019”.

The advertising watchdog concluded “that the claims ‘Europe’s… Lowest Emissions Airline’ and ‘low CO2 emissions’ were misleading”.

Adverts can no longer run in their current form. 

“We told Ryanair to ensure that when making environmental claims, they held adequate evidence to substantiate them and to ensure that the basis of those claims were made clear,” added the regulator.

The airline remains defiant after the ruling.

“Ryanair’s CO2 emissions per passenger km is 66g, which is 25 per cent lower than the other major European airlines,” a spokesperson told The Independent.

“Ryanair is delighted with its latest environmental advertising campaign, which communicates a hugely important message for our customers. The single most important thing any consumer can do to halve their carbon footprint is switch to Ryanair.

“We successfully ran this advertising message in 10 countries across Europe. We made minor adjustments to the advertising in the UK market at the request of the relevant approval bodies. 

“We were surprised we had to make these small changes, as the message was approved in other markets and we provided all the supporting data they required.”

Rory Boland, Which? Travel editor, said: “A recent Which? investigation found Ryanair flights had the joint lowest carbon emissions per passenger on the routes we analysed. However, we also found some ‘carbon offset’ schemes offered by Ryanair do little or nothing at all to reduce carbon emissions.

“Millions of travellers want to make greener choices when they go on holiday, so the regulator is right to crack down on companies that make this more difficult with misleading information.”

Individual carbon footprints are calculated by dividing the total amount of carbon used per flight and dividing it by the number of passengers onboard – hence having a high load factor increases efficiency and can reduce a person’s personal carbon emissions.

Despite its packed flights, Ryanair was also the only airline included in a list of Europe’s top 10 polluting companies last April.


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