Air transport is associated with a wide variety of ideas, representations and meanings. Flying, perhaps more than any other means of transport, conjures diverse images of leisure, recreation, connectivity, business productivity, social contact and cultural exchange. No other mode of transport offers such ease of access to international tourism destinations, such rapid transfer between major cities at the continental or global scales, or such a wide range of opportunities for travellers to encounter and experience new places. Given the capacity of the industry to drive economic growth and to enhance mobility, air transport has become an important instrument of globalisation (defined broadly as the process of increasing integration of economic, political, social and cultural activities at the global scale) and a potent symbol of those new patterns of interconnection. Yet, to some people, air transport represents a destructive force that threatens the integrity of communities and environments. Despite the emergence of the so-called low-cost carriers (LCCs), flying is still regarded by many people as a luxury enjoyed by affluent travellers with lifestyles of unprecedented leisure. Many others do not enjoy the benefits of aviation but nonetheless suffer its impacts: noise, pollution, congestion and – sometimes – dislocation. To some people, air transport represents an industry that has enjoyed unfair subsidies and that has been regulated with an excessively light touch. Air transport therefore generates fierce controversy, as in debates about the construction of new airport infrastructure, about the social acceptability of night flying or about the supply of air-freighted organic food. Above all, aviation has become a powerful symbol of fossil fuel consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. Such diverse images illustrate the complexity and relevance of the relationship between air transport and the environment.