As concerned residents await an environmental impact review of the proposed expansion of Hanscom Field, they’ve gained another arrow in their quiver: a report examining private jet air traffic at the regional hub.
Around half of the trips between January 2022 and July 2023 were recreational and luxury flights and 14 percent of all flights lasted less than 30 minutes, according to Hanscom High Flyers: Private Jet Excess Doesn’t Justify Airport Expansion.
“[W]e find that the expansion would primarily serve the wealthiest travelers in the region, many who frequently take short-hop flights to recreational and luxury destinations,” the report summarized.
The greatest amount of carbon emissions is released at takeoff, making short flights extremely energy inefficient compared to other modes of transportation, the study said.
It was released October 2, the same day expansion opponents, including many associated with Concord’s Save Our Heritage group, rallied outside Gov. Maura Healey’s office to present a petition with more than 10,000 signatures.
The report was prepared by the progressive Institute for Policy Studies, which was founded in 2006 to “draw attention to the growing dangers of concentrated wealth and power, and to advocate for policies and practices to reverse extreme inequalities in income, wealth, and opportunity.”
The flights are serving the wealthiest, and in the process are creating significant amounts of pollution, IPS found. Each private jet emits at least 10 times more pollution per passenger than commercial flights, IPS said in a May report, High Flyers 2023.
IPS identified some of the frequent users of private jets at Hanscom, such as Arthur S. Demoulas of Market Basket fame, who was responsible for 741 tons of carbon emissions over 18 months. Other jet owners, such as Patriots owner Robert Kraft, and John Henry, who owns the Boston Red Sox and the Boston Globe, requested their aircraft be excluded from public registries.
The report makes three recommendations: Suspend any private jet expansion, eliminate the Massachusetts sales tax exemption on aviation purchases and fuel and increase the excise tax on jet fuel.
The expansion calls for 27 new hangars. The Massachusetts Port Authority, which oversees the airport, regards the plans as a response to existing demand. The buildings will largely house existing users and eliminate the need to ferry empty planes to another destination when no hangars are available.
IPS reports are available on Inequality.org.
Mark Wahlberg, a Dorchester native, heartthrob and actor, visited Boston at the end of September for the opening of Moxies, a restaurant that serves a signature cocktail: “The Marky Marg.”
According to data supplied by Amy McCoy of Ayer, Wahlberg’s jet was at Hanscom on September 28 and flew to Boston, a flight just shy of 24 minutes.