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Airships for City Hops

Fly in style and cut CO2 emissions by 90 percent.

For those fancying a trip from Barcelona to the Balearic Islands but concerned about the carbon footprint of aeroplane travel, a UK company is promising a surprising solution: commercial airships.

Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) has developed a new environmentally friendly airship and named a string of routes it hopes to serve from 2025. The routes for the 100-passenger Airlander 10 airship include Barcelona to Palma de Mallorca in four and a half hours, and Liverpool to Belfast in five hours and 20 minutes. With, of course, fantastic views.

The company says the journey by airship would take roughly the same time as aeroplane travel once getting to and from the airport was taken into account (as the airship can take off and land on almost any flat surface), but would generate a substantially smaller carbon footprint. HAV says the CO2 footprint per passenger on its airship would be about 4.5kg, compared with about 53kg via jet plane.

Tom Grundy, HAV’s chief executive, compares the Airlander to a “fast ferry” and is most likely to succeed where the city hops include travelling over water, when the aircraft can then out-compete the railway option. It's probable that we will no longer be permitted to fly short haul in traditional aeroplanes in the not too distant future. For example, French lawmakers have recently voted to abolish domestic flights on routes than can be covered by train in under two-and-a-half hours, as the government seeks to lower carbon emissions.

“It’s an early and quick win for the climate,” Grundy says. “Especially when you use this to get over an obstacle like water or hills.”


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