A new record of close to 1,500 private jet flights are expected this week at airports around Davos for the World Economic Forum (WEF) summit.
The figure was released on Monday by charter flight company Air Charter Service (ACS) that has been monitoring flight activity during the event since 2013. Last year’s summit saw a record 1,300 flights, an increase of 11% compared to 2017.
“If we see a similar increase this year, we could be looking at almost 1,500 aircraft movements over the six days,” said Andy Christie, Private Jets Director at ACS.
Davos does not have its own airport and many attendees choose to fly in by helicopter from nearby airports. According to Christie, the four main airfields preferred by private jet users attending WEF are Zurich, Dübendorf, St. Gallen-Altenrhein and St. Moritz.
Top countries in terms of arrivals and departures of private jets to WEF are Germany, France, US, UK, Russia and the UAE.
“We have had bookings from as far as our operations in Hong Kong, India and the US – no other event has the same global appeal," said Christie.
Attendees are increasingly opting for bigger jets such as Gulfstream GVs and Global Expresses.
“This is at least in part due to some of the long distances travelled, but also possibly due to business rivals not wanting to be seen to be outdone by one another,” said Christie.
The increase in private jet flights runs contrary to the importance given to climate change on the summit's agenda. The WEF’s own Global Risks Perception Survey of nearly 1,000 decision-makers listed extreme weather and climate-change policy failures as the gravest threat over a ten-year horizon.
Organisers of the event say that the emissions are offset by environmental initiatives. This year participants taking the train will be be partially reimbursed.
"Most private aircraft are chartered by political leaders because it is more efficient and safer," Dominique Waughray, head of Global Public Goods at WEF told the press agency AFP. "So it's more of a security measure, but we still compensate for it."