International carriers servicing Europe’s airports are to be subject to a so-called “carbon tax” as part of the European Union’s efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Under the plan, each airline will have to pay a small fee per flight to offset emissions resulting from the flight. And naturally, this increased cost will be passed onto passengers.
The scheme has been in place since 2005 but has been expanded to include airlines. EU regulators are determined to impose the scheme on all airlines flying into its airspace, and a recent European Court of Justice verdict ruled international carriers must pay the carbon tax after a US carrier and airlines representative body there filed a suit.
The reality is that while the carbon tax is a European initiative, it runs contrary to a declaration of the United Nations International Civil Aviation Organisation to exempt international carriers from the carbon tax. Already, airlines in China and India have decided to opt out by withholding data needed to apply the carbon tax. This EU initiative seems to be little more than a revenue grab and is a blatant attempt to exercise extraterritorial jurisdiction on international carriers. Given the perilous state of many former legacy carriers in Europe, their aging fleets and their overburdening with red tape, this carbon tax seems untimely and inappropriate.
Gulf airlines have modern fleets, environmentally friendly aircraft with low carbon footprints. Having passengers on these aircraft pay carbon taxes to the European Union is a stretch. The European Union is acting in a unilateral fashion, going it alone in imposing the carbon tax. Given the global nature of aviation, it’s simply more practical that all international carriers agree and act in unison in tackling greenhouse gases. The bureaucrats in Brussels need to go back to the drawing board and scrap their unilateral tax. This is an issue for the world’s airline industry, not just those carriers in Europe.