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The rebound effect in the aviation sector


  • Evans, Antony
  • Schäfer, Andreas


The rebound effect, i.e., the (partial) offset of the energy efficiency improvement potential due to a reduction in marginal usage costs and the associated increase in consumer demand, has been extensively studied for residential energy demand and automobile travel. This study presents a quantitative estimate of the rebound effect for an air traffic network including the 22 busiest airports, which serve 14 of the highest O–D cities within the domestic U.S. aviation sector. To satisfy this objective, passenger flows, aircraft operations, flight delays and the resulting energy use are simulated. Our model results indicate that the average rebound effect in this network is about 19%, for the range of aircraft fuel burn reductions considered. This is the net impact of an increase in air transportation supply to satisfy the rising passenger demand, airline operational effects that further increase supply, and the mitigating effects of an increase in flight delays. Although the magnitude of the rebound effect is small, it can be significant for a sector that has comparatively few options for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Suggested Citation

  • Evans, Antony & Schäfer, Andreas, 2013. "The rebound effect in the aviation sector," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 158-165.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:eneeco:v:36:y:2013:i:c:p:158-165 DOI: 10.1016/j.eneco.2012.12.005

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kenneth A. Small & Kurt Van Dender, 2007. "Fuel Efficiency and Motor Vehicle Travel: The Declining Rebound Effect," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 1), pages 25-52.
    2. David L. Greene & James R. Kahn & Robert C. Gibson, 1999. "Fuel Economy Rebound Effect for U.S. Household Vehicles," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 3), pages 1-31.
    3. Forbes, Silke J., 2008. "The effect of air traffic delays on airline prices," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 26(5), pages 1218-1232, September.
    4. A. Greening, Lorna & Greene, David L. & Difiglio, Carmen, 2000. "Energy efficiency and consumption -- the rebound effect -- a survey," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 28(6-7), pages 389-401, June.
    5. Drew Fudenberg & Jean Tirole, 1991. "Game Theory," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262061414, July.
    6. Evans, Antony & Schäfer, Andreas, 2011. "The impact of airport capacity constraints on future growth in the US air transportation system," Journal of Air Transport Management, Elsevier, vol. 17(5), pages 288-295.
    7. J. Daniel Khazzoom, 1980. "Economic Implications of Mandated Efficiency in Standards for Household Appliances," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 4), pages 21-40.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:fis:journl:180104 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Zhang, Yue-Jun & Liu, Zhao & Qin, Chang-Xiong & Tan, Tai-De, 2017. "The direct and indirect CO2 rebound effect for private cars in China," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 149-161.
    3. Li, Ke & Jiang, Zhujun, 2016. "The impacts of removing energy subsidies on economy-wide rebound effects in China: An input-output analysis," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 62-72.
    4. Hans Jakob Walnum & Carlo Aall & Søren Løkke, 2014. "Can Rebound Effects Explain Why Sustainable Mobility Has Not Been Achieved?," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 6(12), pages 1-28, December.
    5. Li, Ke & Lin, Boqiang, 2015. "Heterogeneity in rebound effects: Estimated results and impact of China’s fossil-fuel subsidies," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 149(C), pages 148-160.
    6. Zou, Bo & Hansen, Mark, 2014. "Flight delay impact on airfare and flight frequency: A comprehensive assessment," Transportation Research Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review, Elsevier, vol. 69(C), pages 54-74.
    7. repec:eee:eneeco:v:68:y:2017:i:c:p:89-108 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Li, Ke & Zhang, Ning & Liu, Yanchu, 2016. "The energy rebound effects across China’s industrial sectors: An output distance function approach," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 184(C), pages 1165-1175.

    More about this item


    Rebound effect; Aviation; Energy use; Greenhouse gas emissions;

    JEL classification:

    • L93 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Air Transportation
    • R41 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - Transportation: Demand, Supply, and Congestion; Travel Time; Safety and Accidents; Transportation Noise
    • Q55 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Technological Innovation


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