Airlines Say European Emissions Policy Wrong

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the U.S. Air Transport Association (ATA) have both sharply criticized the recent European Parliament vote to bring aviation into the European Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). The two airline associations, representing most of the world’s air carriers, charged that the vote is not only illegal but also a punitive tax on airlines already facing higher fuel costs.

“It’s absolutely the wrong answer to the very serious issue of environment,” said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s director general and CEO. “We support emissions trading, but not this decision. Europe has taken the wrong approach, with the wrong conditions at the wrong time.”

“The Parliament’s unilateral decision to cover the world’s airlines– including U.S. airlines– in Europe’s ETS is not only bad policy, it is illegal,” said ATA President and CEO Jim May. “The European Union’s ( EU) unilateral grab of power over U.S. and other non-EU airlines wherever they are in the world is a clear violation of the Chicago Convention. The EU decision to move forward with this legislation is sure to spawn a legal challenge.” The Chicago Convention regulates airlines.

The legislation requires U.S. and other non-EU airlines to pay EU entities for the airlines’ emissions for the entire length of a flight to and from Europe, without the consent of the airlines’ home countries. The ATA believes that the vote allows Europe to charge U.S. airlines and their customers for emissions in Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco– indeed anywhere in the U.S. an aircraft bound for or incoming from Europe operates.

ATA’s May said that it appears as if the EU intends to keep the meter running in international airspace, too.  “If this sounds like a tax grab, it is. Europe rakes in the revenue – the rest of the world pays,” May said.

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