Fuel-sucking, clout-flashing private jets have been getting the international stink-eye lately, starting in July when Kylie Jenner posted a flippant “let them eat cake!” Instagram featuring her own deluxe sky-cab captioned: “you wanna take mine or yours?”
Next, marketing and data analysis company Yard used data from CelebJets to rank which celebrities were the biggest climate abusers with their heavy private plane use.
But what does that have to do with the people who live in Van Nuys, home to the Van Nuys Airport? VNY is a general aviation airport, meaning it is available for the use of the public but dos not have commercial service. In other words, it’s exactly the sort of place one or multiple Kardashian-Jenners would take off from.
It’s also the busiest aviation unit in the nation.
As the Los Angeles Times reports, the residential community is choking on pollution from the airport where “in preparation for a flight, a single jet might run its engines for more than an hour on airplane ramps separated from residential streets by little more than a low wall and chain-link fence.”
The ultrafine particles jets emits have been linked to serious health problems for people living nearby, including various cardiovascular and respiratory conditions. Additionally, there are the fumes—noxious and foul—plaguing Van Nuys residents daily. There’s also the noise bothering more affluent communities like Sherman Oaks, Encino and Woodland Hills.
“I can’t let my son out,” one local tells the Times. “When the fumes come out, I have to bring him inside.”
And residents want to know how public money going to the airport is being spent. Who benefits?
Last year, the airport spent $35.5 million to resurface a taxiway, the Times reports. In August, the airport completed a $13.1-million project to improve runways, renovations that will ultimately be enjoyed by the inconceivably rich owners of mile-high pleasure cruisers.
For the one percent, flying on a private jet has only risen in popularity in recent years—and even more did so during COVID. The private jet industry saw a 300 percent year-over-year increase in those who flew on a private plane for the first time in 2020, according to the Robb Report.
Richard Koe, a managing director at the data research firm WingX, says this year has been “a record year” for “global business” jet traffic. The number of monthly private jet flights are shot up 16 percent between August 2019 and August 2022 internationally.
Los Angeles reflects those patterns. There was a 17 percent rise in private jet takeoffs in the greater metropolitan area in the first eight months of 2022, versus that same time period in 2021, according to data from WingX. And Van Nuys this year has handled 30 percent of all the private jet assignments in Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange and Riverside counties, according to the Times.