Nine European aviation companies and airlines have joined forces in demanding concrete steps to stop the escalating trade conflict with countries opposing the inclusion of aviation in the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) (ATW Daily News, Dec. 22, 2011).

The CEOs of Airbus, Air Berlin, Air France, British Airways, Iberia, Lufthansa, MTU Aero Engines, Safran, and Virgin Atlantic have written joint letters to the heads of state of the four Airbus manufacturing countries—France, the UK, Germany and Spain—urging them “to take action and stop an escalating trade conflict with China and other countries” opposing the ETS.  Airbus led the initiative, it confirmed to ATW. CEO Tom Enders signed all four letters.

European Commission president Manual Barroso, EC VP-transport Siim Kallas, trade commissioner Karel De Gucht and Climate Action commissioner Connie Hedegaard are copied on the letters. 

The companies’ CEOs argue that the threat of retaliation is becoming “concrete” and this will have “serious” consequences on the European aviation business (ATW Daily News, Feb. 23).

“In many of the countries opposed to ETS, countermeasures and restrictions on European airlines are in preparation, such as special taxes and even traffic rights limitations. In China, approval for $12 billion worth of Airbus orders has been suspended,” Airbus said in a statement (ATW Daily News, March 9). It estimates that this action will jeopardize more than 1,000 Airbus jobs in Europe and at least another 1,000 in the supply chain.

The CEOs said they expect the list of suspensions, cancellations and punitive actions to grow as other important markets continue to oppose ETS and describe the situation as becoming “intolerable” for the European aviation industry.

They are requesting “urgent consultations” at the level of the EU Council and with the governments taking retaliatory trade action. “The aim must be to find a compromise solution and to have these punitive trade measures stopped before it is too late,” they wrote.

“We have always believed that only a global solution would be adequate to resolve the problem of global aviation emissions. This solution can only be found in ICAO, which has recently appointed a high level dedicated group to propose a global framework for international aviation emissions by the end of this year,” they said.