Opposition to the European Union's emissions trading scheme has come out in full force at the IATA annual general meeting in Singapore, with airlines and industry officials across the globe warning that it would severely affect an industry that is already highly taxed and raise the spectre of retaliatory moves elsewhere.
The scheme, which is due to come into force next year, was described by IATA director general Giovanni Bisignani as "a $1.5 billion cash grab that would do nothing to reduce emissions". Calling for a global approach to tackle climate change, he said "basta" to Europe and added it to the IATA wall of shame.
"It is going to be a big disruption in our competitiveness," adds Antonio Vazquez, chairman of Iberia and parent International Airlines
Group. "If you need to make a connection and avoid Europe, you would do it. The impact would be significant, it will affect traffic."
Australia's transport minister Anthony Albanese believes that the markets are the best way to decide any model of pricing carbon emissions.
Garuda Indonesia chief executive Emirsyah Satar points out that ultimately, it will be the consumers who will lose out as they will face additional costs.
Emirates president Tim Clark, however, warns that it would be risky for IATA to call the ETS illegal, saying that those are decisions made by countries or political entities based on their laws.
"I'm not sure if we are in a position to judge if it is illegal," he says, warning that it could result in a "patchwork quilt of complexity" as other nations implement similar schemes: "What it will spawn is the equivalent of ETS in Australiasia, Asia, the Middle East and other parts of the world. They can be carbon taxes and so on, and this on an industry that is already heavily taxed."
He foresees that in the next six months, there will be "a lot of activity on the political level" against what adds another level of complexity to what is already a "highly complex industry".