London/Prague - Last week the British football player David Beckham earned a dubious title of leaving the "biggest carbon footprint in the world". The contest is run by a British green campaigner called Carbon Trust, which helps private as well as public institutions to lower the carbon dioxide emissions, responsible for the climate change.
Only in 2007 Beckham flew over 400 000 km, which is more than he would need to travel to the Moon. In environmental terms, it means a record high of 163 tons of CO2 that the football superstar contributed to the atmosphere. On the average, each British citizen annually produces about 9.4 ton of CO2 (compared to the Czech Republic's 12 tons of CO2 per capita).
How do the Czech business celebrities who also prefer to travel by private jets compare? It is hard to say, since none of them would be open enough to comment on it. Be it the Czech oil businessman Karel Komárek, boss of the largest Czech lottery operator Sazka Aleš Hušák or finance and investment PPF Group's Petr Kellner.
Czechs in the air
Czech businessmen seem to be fond of traveling by private jets. Karel Komárek, Aleš Hušák, PPF Group's Jiří Šmejc or the richest Czech entrepreneur Petr Kellner, however, are cautiously silent about their time spent by flying.
"I do not think it is the type of information that would say anything about us," said the PPF Group's spokesman Jiří Hájek to Aktuálně.cz.
"We do use private jets but we do not make the number of kilometers public. That is entirely an internal issue," explained spokesperson of Sazka Zdeněk Zikmund.
The ABS Jets, whose services are used also by J&T Finance Group, said that last year they flew at least 2 million kilometers.
They refused to disclose any information about their customers. "We resolutely refuse to provide data about our clients," the ABS Jets' Business Director Jan Váňa said for Aktuálně.cz.
Planes a grave eco-problem
It is exactly planes that are the least eco-friendly means of transportation. Out of all ways of travel the aircraft fuel consumption is the highest per passenger, and so is its pollution share.
A French institute for environment issues recently published a report saying that a family of four flying from Paris to Nice (about 900 kilometres/600 miles) contributes to the global warming five time as much as a diesel locomotive, and twice to four times as much as a car.
"The International Organization for Civic Aviation estimates that nitrogen dioxide emissions from aircraft engines are going to increase to 169% between 2002 and 2020," the Czech environmental organizations Zelený kruh (Green Circle) and Hnutí Duha (Rainbow Movement) claim in their report on the ways transport influences environment.
"The efficiency of aircraft engines is increasing, which means the relative air pollution is decreasing. But this trend is not only annulled but totally exceeded by the enormous growth of aviation," stated Zelený kruh and Hnutí Duha.
The proof is at hand; Prague´s airport Ruzyně dispatched almost 12.5 million passengers in 2007. Compared to 2006 it is an increase of 7.5%. A similar trend is to continue this year as well.