ATA Chief Vows Continued Fight Against ETS

 - October 20, 2011, 12:06 PM
ATA president and CEO Nicholas Calio continues to challenge Europe's ETS.

The head of the Air Transport Association of America (ATA) railed against Europe’s emissions trading scheme (EU ETS) during an October 18 speech at the Aero Club in Washington, D.C., vowing to continue the fight against carbon emissions cap-and-trade requirements for air carriers scheduled to take effect January 1. Nicholas Calio, ATA president and CEO, took a similar hard line against proposed U.S. taxes on the industry.

“The EU ETS scheme I’m tempted to say stinks—and it does,” said Calio. “It is an extraterritorial, jurisdictional grab that’s going to cost airlines a bunch of money and not good for the environment.”

Earlier this month, the advocate general of the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg dealt the ATA a blow when she denied its appeal against “unilateral” application of the ETS to non-European carriers. The ruling by Advocate General Juliane Kokott remains provisional, and still must be accepted by the court. The ATA argues that the EU’s action violates the Chicago Convention, which established the International Civil Aviation Organization in 1947. In support of that position, representatives of 21 countries have signed a declaration opposing the ETS.

“I don’t know how much time we’ve spent working with the European Commission,” Calio said, referring to the EU’s executive body. “They complain of things without having to worry about the consequences…I don’t know how it’s going to play out. Does the [reaction] also have to be territorial? Do you get a trade war going on? Do you have reduced service? It’s difficult to see.”

Acknowledging that he was “probably being indiscrete here,” Calio called the European court “a political organization; it’s not a court of justice. We’re going to continue to fight [the ETS]. We’re working very well with the U.S. government, which is pushing this very hard, and with other governments across the world.”

The ATA also opposes the U.S. government—or, more specifically, the Obama Administration—on proposed new taxes aimed at reducing the spiraling federal deficit. The administration proposes to levy a $100 charge for every airplane departure in controlled airspace and to immediately double the passenger security tax to $5 per one-way trip, followed by another increase to $7.50 in 2017. The ATA contends such increases will cost airlines and their customers $36 billion over the next 10 years. During his speech, Calio said the “job-killing, growth-destroying” taxes “make absolutely no sense.”