China's ambassador to the EU has denied that the country has blocked its airlines from purchasing Airbus aircraft in retaliation against the EU's Emissions Trading System (ETS), but said that it does "makes sense" for the carriers to shun such purchases.
Wu Hailong added that such decisions are up to the individual airlines and not the government, and that while turning away from the European manufacturer, the carriers may favour competitor Boeing instead, European media reported.
Wu's comments, one of the firsts from a top Chinese official on the issue, came after news broke of Airbus saying that China's three core airlines - Air China, China Eastern and Hainan Airlines - had failed to finalise agreements for the purchase of Airbus A330s because of the EU ETS.
When contacted, the China Air Transport Association said that its stance has not changed and that it is still strongly against the emissions scheme because "it is unfair".
In February, the Civil Aviation Administration of China banned the nation's airlines from complying with the EU ETS.
The scheme, which kicked in this year, caps emissions on airlines operating to and from the EU, and has resulted in several countries and carriers protesting the move, threatening to impose retaliatory measures on European carriers.