Public respond to Rishi Sunak’s London to Leeds private jet

The Conservative Party leader and British Prime Minister opted to take to the skies in a Royal Air Force plane rather than jump on a two-hour train for his visit to Yorkshire this week, prompting criticism from environmentalists, air pollution lobbyists, and economists. 

The trip to Rutland Lodge Medical Practice in the Chapel Allerton district of Leeds, along with a stop in the Bradford borough of Keighley, was shared on the official 10 Downing Street Flickr account, along with images of the UK’s most senior politician boarding the 14-seat jet, originally brought into service for transporting ‘priority military personnel and small items of mission critical freight to, from and within operational areas’.

At the time of writing, it’s not clear what the 200-mile journey cost, but a May 2022 private helicopter flight taken by the then-Chancellor to a dinner in Wales reportedly set him back £10,000. While he personally covered that fee, he was staunchly criticised at the time, with many remarking the decision was out of touch given the country’s worsening economic outlook, rapidly rising cost of living, and energy crisis. 

Vast numbers of people have taken to social media networks to voice their objection to the Leeds flight. Some have labelled the decision hypocritical at a time when nurses, ambulance workers, doctors, teachers, and rail workers are among the vital public sector staff walking out to strike over low pay or real-term pay cuts. Others have highlighted that the Prime Minister opted to do this just months after the COP27 climate summit, at which Britain postured as a leader in mitigating and tackling the environmental crisis. 

Last year, Air Quality News‘ sister title, Environment Journal, reported on a bold decision by France to ban all private domestic flights where fast rail alternatives are available — defined as train journeys of 2.5hrs and under. The story highlighted not just the decision, but the shocking emissions impact of private jets, which are up to 14 times more polluting per passenger mile than commercial flights, and 50 times more damaging that trains. 


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Help us break the news – share your information, opinion or analysis
Back to top