Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Flights and actors: another environmental farce

Hot on the heels of the Biofuels scam that we covered HERE comes a scam of similar farce and hypocrisy value.

This time an airline flying from Norwich to Dublin has been hiring actors to fly so that the airline can claim a passenger based bonus from Norwich airport.

So now we have an airline PAYING people to fly to Ireland and then back again on the next flight. Meanwhile the airport is paying large bonuses to airlines to fly as many people as possible. Both parties need their heads knocking together.

Another classic case of the market riding rough shod over the environment. The two scams outlined in the last 2 posts give capitalism a bad name.

Airline hiring actors for flights faces fine [Independent]

An Exeter-based airline which advertised for actors to fly backwards and forwards between Norwich and Dublin to boost passenger numbers may be penalised, airport bosses have warned.

Flybe hit on the idea when faced with losing £280,000 because it had not met a passenger target imposed by Norwich International Airport as part of a commercial deal.

But Norwich airport bosses said they may not pay the rebate even if Flybe met the target because of the airline's tactics.


But one woman boarding a Flybe plane at Norwich she was a "model" and had been paid to fly to Dublin and back.

"I am with a modelling agency. They called me over the weekend offering me a job, so I took it," said Suzanne Moore, 28.

"We have got to get off the plane and then come straight back here."

The Independent editorial discusses further:

Terence Blacker: A stunt that exposes the truth about corporate greed

How is this for an image which perfectly captures the greed, hypocrisy and downright silliness of the age through which we are living? A planeload of passengers flies from Norwich to Dublin. When it arrives, the travellers wait at the airport for half an hour and then re-board the plane to fly straight back. They are, in fact, not tourists or business people but actors, whose golden dream of appearing in The Bill has brought them to Norfolk's leading (only) international airport where they will earn £82 as part of a fairly obvious scam.

More importantly, Blacker goes on to attack, correctly, the corporates that are attaching themselves to "green issues".

So conglomerates, and their cynical advertisers, present themselves as fiscal friends of the Earth in marketing campaigns so shamelessly fraudulent that the Advertising Standards Authority has recently been obliged to call an industry summit to remind companies and marketers of their responsibilities. No matter how shamelessly profit-led a company may be, its image is likely to be enhanced by pictures of polar bears, kiddies and wind turbines. A blizzard of reassuring pseudo-science is deployed to promote everything from oil companies to supermarkets and 4x4s.

It works, of course. Goldman Sachs has reported that companies that can present themselves as ethical and green reap the benefits in their profit-margins. Developers whose grandiose plans for new towns were rejected in the past have re-packaged their proposals as eco-towns with instant success.

The message behind the grand marketing plans which so usefully conflate green and greed is aimed at us, the consumers. The Government can put out concerned public service announcements about recycling while cheerfully encouraging the expansion of airports. Industry promotes the acquisition of new products rather than repairing the old, causing a mountain of computers, mobiles, TVs and kitchen gadgets to be dumped every day.

In my part of the country, there is now only one tyre company, a small family firm, which bothers to mend punctures rather than automatically selling new tyres. Its owner would be appalled to be described as an environmentalist but, without showing off about it, he is being more ecologically responsible in his work than many of the large companies whose green credentials are often as fake as some of Flybe's passengers to Dublin.


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