20 EU Airlines Investigated for Greenwashing

EU flags flying outside the European Commission building
Author: Samuel Beckingham
Updated: May 08, 2024
4 minutes read

Consumer protection authorities in the European Union have instigated action against 20 airlines for misleading greenwashing practices. Together with Belgian, Dutch, Norwegian and Spanish watchdogs, they are investigating the claims to see who’s at fault. As it’s early in the process, no names have been disclosed.

Misleading Green Claims

The cause for concern over greenwashing claims is rooted in how airlines have purported offsetting CO₂ emissions from flights through climate projects. By offering air passengers an additional fee, they were being told this would go towards helping go greener.

“If we want responsible consumers, we need to provide them with accurate information … They deserve accurate and scientific answers, not vague or false claims.”

Vera Jourova – EU Commissioner for Values and Transparency

There is a potential for misleading consumers here because the airlines aren’t able to clarify whether the claims are based on sound scientific evidence. Such practices are prohibited under Articles 5, 6 and 7 of the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive.

Key Occurrences

The areas of particular concern include the following:

  • Creating an incorrect impression that paying an additional fee for climate projects can reduce or fully counterbalance carbon emissions

  • Use of the term “sustainable aviation fuels” without justifying the environmental impact

  • Use of terms like “green”, “sustainable” and “responsible” or other environmentally-friendly terminology

  • Claiming the airline is on a path to net zero without clear and verifiable commitments, targets or an independent monitoring system

  • Using calculators to project carbon savings without any scientific proof or efficacy and not providing the information for the calculations

  • Providing flight comparisons based on carbon emissions without sufficient or accurate information on comparison metrics

Next Steps

Affected airlines have been invited to give a response to the European Commission within 30 days. This should include a proposal of measures they will take to address the concerns over greenwashing claims so they adhere to EU consumer law.

Once agreed upon, the Commission will then monitor how these changes are implemented. If nothing is done by the airlines, consumer protection authorities have the power to enforce action, which can include sanctions.

Delayed Flights

Instances of greenwashing aren’t the only claims against airlines. Thanks to air passenger rights and protections in both the EU and UK, you’re able to claim compensation for a flight that was delayed for at least three hours. As long as the airline was at fault for the delay, you could be due money back.

Depending on the distance of your journey, you might be eligible for up to £520 per passenger. For a family of four, this works out at £2,080! This is a payout not to be scoffed at.

On another plus note, you’re able to make a claim for any flight that took off in the last six years. This gives you plenty of time and scope to find out if you’ve been affected.

To find out how to claim flight delay compensation, read our accompanying guide.

Alternatively, you can start your claim by clicking on the button below.