The “Coalition to Stop Private Jet Expansion at Hanscom or Anywhere” rallied at the State House Monday, urging the governor to apply pressure on Massport and cancel an expansion of the Bedford airport.
They presented Gov. Maura Healey with a petition with over 10,000 signatures, requesting that she use her influence to convince Massport to cancel what’s known as the North Airfield project. Massport and a private developer are proposing more than two dozen hangars, tripling the space devoted to servicing private jets at the airfield.
“In seriously entertaining a proposal to build multiple new hangars for super-polluting private jets at Hanscom Airfield, MassPort is on the verge of a stomach-turning two-fer: aiding and abetting the warming of the planet, and pandering to the concentration of private wealth,” said Sen. Michael Barrett, who attended the rally.
Activist and rally organizer Alex Chatfield of Lincoln described the disproportionate amount of CO2 gases produced by those who travel by private jets.
“The emissions per passenger per mile can be as much as 10 to 14 times that of a commercial jet,” Chatfield said. “With the climate crisis unfolding and news about climate-related disasters coming at us every week, we simply cannot have one of our largest, most powerful state agencies trying to drastically increase private jet emissions.”
Chatfield says research shows the private jet market serves a wealthy few who can afford it.
“The majority of flights going out of airports like Hanscom are going to leisure destinations, vacation spots, sporting events like the Super Bowl and people's second and third homes on places like Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard or out west,” Chatfield said.
A report issued by the Institute for Policy Studies estimates that at least half of all flights through the airfield in the last year and a half were recreational and luxury flights.
But Massport says the expansion is to respond to existing demand. It doesn’t appear ready or willing to abandon the project, saying in a statement that the proposed expansion “does not go against Massport’s commitment to our neighboring communities and the environment.” The statement issued a statement just before the rally reads, in part:
“One of our primary missions is to support Massachusetts-based businesses by providing the infrastructure they need to compete in the global economy,” the statement reads. “The proposal includes numerous sustainability features, including a LEED Gold, or better design.”
Chatfield admits the governor does not have direct authority over Massport but says she can use her influence to persuade its directors to drop or alter the project. So far, the governor has not indicated her stand on the issue.