Airlines reject carbon trading ‘windfall profit’ claims

By John Parnell

Airlines deny they have been making as much as €1.3bn in windfall profits from the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

A report by CE Delft claims that airlines are passing nominal ‘carbon costs’ onto passengers that exceed those they incur from the ETS.

Airlines were required to pay for 15% of the carbon they emitted from any flight that landed or took off from EU airports, backdated to 2010.

That policy has since been put on hold while work continues on a global agreement to limit emissions by the aviation industry.

“The report is light on facts and very heavy on assumptions. The industry’s 1% net margin in 2012 indicates just how much airlines struggle to cover the real cost of air transport in air fare,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s director general and CEO.

“Suggesting that airlines have been able to recover hundreds of millions of Euros from passengers for costs that they did not face is ludicrous.”

The future of work to reduce aviation emissions could be decided in Autumn 2013. (Source: Flickr/travelsofamonkey)

The CE Delft study claimed airlines had the opportunity to accrue as much as €870m if the charges related to the remaining 85% of emissions are passed on – a situation campaigners argue is untenable.

“Airlines have taken passengers for a ride and now their green fig leaf has been blown away. It’s time for all airlines to stop lobbying for business as usual and take responsibility for their significant climate impacts,” said Iain Keith from Avaaz.

The “stop the clock” decision, which halted the inclusion of aviation in the ETS means emissions from 2012 will no longer need to be accounted for, which the report claims could generate another €486m for the industry.

IATA said it surprised CE Delft were willing to put its name to the research and claimed that the words if, assume, probable, uncertain, could, estimate and not known appear more than 50 times in seven pages of text.

The General Assembly of the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) will meet in the autumn to hammer out a deal.

The EU has said that if there is no agreement in place, it will continue to include international airlines in its carbon trading scheme.

European climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard was accused by an Asia-Pacific industry group of negotiating “with a gun on the table“.

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