The meeting of the key ERA industry affairs advisory group at the association’s assembly in Rome in September featured a long discussion on the EU emissions trading scheme (ETS) and the growing unease with the plan as it draws nearer to implementation.
Aberto Garcia, industry affairs director of Air Nostrum, perhaps best summed up the prevailing feelings. “Brussels is making the lives of airlines more difficult,” he said.
The European Commission (EC) has recently made a number of what the ERA considers disturbing comments regarding ETS, and members present at the session expressed their concern about the lack of a “Plan B.” A joint press release issued by the ERA, the Association of European Airlines (AEA) and the International Air Carriers Association (IACA) responded to comments by EC climate action commissioner Connie Hedegaard. The commissioner recently referred to ETS free allowances as “revenues” and suggested airlines could channel the nonexistent “funds” into fleet modernization.
Later, the ERA passed three resolutions, all of which it said “raise serious concerns about the threat to regional air links, jobs, economic investment and Europe’s ability to compete on a global stage should plans by Europe’s regulators for airport slots, emissions trading and VAT on air fares go ahead.” On ETS, ERA general director Mike Ambrose said the association wants to ensure that the scheme does not disadvantage intra-European airlines compared with non-EU airlines or other transport modes.