Airbus could withdraw its commitment to increase A330 production to 11 aircraft per month in 2014 if there is no change to the European Union emissions trading scheme (EU-ETS), according to Tom Williams, executive vice-president of Airbus programs. Having increased A330 build rates steadily from seven to nine a month over the past five years, the European airframer has been planning to increase the rate to 10 per month next year and to 11 in 2014.
Under EU-ETS, all airlines would have to buy carbon-emission allowances when flying into EU airports or through EU airspace. China, India, Russia, Japan and the U.S. have been leading protests against the imposition of EU-ETS on non-EU carriers. The Chinese government has even retaliated by blocking Chinese airlines from buying up to 45 Airbus aircraft.
“The [scheme] has to be discussed and negotiated at the global level,” said Fabrice Bregier, Airbus chief executive. “The EU has started in this direction, and Airbus hopes it moves faster toward a global solution.” The manufacturer does not oppose the principle of EU-ETS, which Bregier describes as an incentive to contain emissions. He said the goal is to keep worldwide aviation emissions stable while passenger traffic continues to increase at 4 to 5 percent a year.
At the International Air Transport Association meeting earlier this month in Beijing, John Leahy, Airbus chief operating officer for customers, said, “We agree with the frustrations of the Chinese airlines and the Chinese government.” He pointed out that continuous traffic growth, which Airbus forecasts will average 4.8 percent annually for the next 20 years, does not mean that fuel consumption, and therefore emissions, must increase at the same rate. Indeed, air traffic has increased by about 53 percent since the year 2000, while fuel demand has increased just 3 percent.
Airbus has a backlog of some 320 orders for the A330, sufficient to provide work until early 2015 if production is not increased to 11 per month. About 880 of the 1,199 ordered A330s have been delivered.