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Private Jet users, like the DeVos family, create more pollution than people traveling on commercial flights: Reason #31 for why I have nothing but contempt for the DeVoses

May 10, 2023

The urgency around trying to work towards a more just and sustainable world for all life is no simple or easy matter. However, there are some fundamental truths that we have to come to terms with, like the fact that the wealthiest nations and the richest people on the planet cause a great deal more harm than the majority of the world’s population.

For instance, in a November 2022 report from Oxfam entitled, Carbon Billionaires: The investment emissions of the world’s richest people, states: 

The investments of just 125 billionaires emit 393 million tonnes of CO2e each year – the equivalent of France – at an individual annual average that is a million times higher than someone in the bottom 90 percent of humanity.

Just last week, the Institute for Policy Studies released a new study entitled, High Flyers 2023: How the Ultra-Rich Private Jet travel costs the rest of us and burns up the planet. Here are just a few of the major findings in that report:

  • Private jets emit at least 10 times more pollutants than commercial planes per passenger.
  • Thousands of municipal airports in the U.S. are funded by the public, but many primarily serve private and corporate jets.
  • Since the start of the pandemic, private jet use has increased by about a fifth and private jet emissions have increased more than 23 percent, according to a recent study.

The DeVos Family and their fleet of jets

It is always difficult to find out details about the wealth of the DeVos family, primarily because they don’t believe in full transparency and because they have diversified their wealth and assets in such a way as to make it difficult to track.

There was an interesting article from Business Insider in 2018, with a headline that read, Education secretary Betsy DeVos owns a fleet of 12 private jets and 4 helicopters. In that article it states: 

According to Forbes, the DeVos family owns a fleet of 12 private jets — 1 Boeing Business Jet, 5 Gulfstream G550’s, 1 Gulfstream G450, 2 Bombardier Challenger 350’s, 3 Cessna Citation CJ4’s — and four helicopters. 

We also know that while she was the Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos used her own private jets to travel as Education Secretary, rather than using commercial planes.

Then there is the fact that the global corporation that Rich DeVos founded with Jay Van Andel, the Amway Corporation, also has a fleet of private jets and other planes, with their own hangar at the Kent County Airport. 

The Amway corporate jets get even more use than the private jets owned by the DeVos family, primarily because the Amway jets are used by more people, particularly the people who are near the top of earners in their notorious pyramid scheme. In addition, the Amway Corporation has partnered with other commercial airline companies to offer exclusive trips to Amway distributors for Amway conventions. One example was the partnership with the Emirates, the world’s largest international airline, which transported over 6,500 distributors and company representatives to Dubai.

Then there is the Charter School scheme that Dick DeVos runs, the West Michigan Aviation Academy. The West Michigan Aviation Academy, located at the Kent County Airport, is a school designed to create more pilots, but it also encourages more private jet/plane ownership and use. In the past, Dick DeVos has complained about his Charter School not getting enough public funding.

Therefore, on top of the fact that the DeVos family:

  • Makes massive political contributions to GOP candidates/politicians, which adopt policies that do tremendous harm to working class families, immigrants, the LGBTQ community and BIPOC people in general;
  • Uses their foundations to funnel millions to far right groups like Focus on the Family or think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute or the Mackinac Center for Public Policy;

The DeVos family and the Amway Corporation – just on the matter of air travel – emit at least 10 times more pollutants than anyone else who books a flight from the Kent County Airport. Lastly, besides travel for pleasure, the DeVos family uses their private jets to travel to places to meet with other disgustingly rich people to figure out new ways to expand their wealth and to exploit and oppress more of the world’s population, while creating more pollution and perpetuating Climate Change. Reason #31 for why we should have nothing but contempt for the most powerful family in West Michigan, the DeVos family. 

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