The rebound effect in the aviation sector
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.
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