North and South American operators submit ETS plans despite objections

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Carriers from the Americas have begun submitting their monitoring plans for the European Union's emissions trading scheme even as they question the legality of the programme.

Both the Latin American and Caribbean air transport association, ALTA, and the Air Transport Association of America (ATA) say their members are filing emissions monitoring, reporting and verification plans "under protest" as most EU member states maintained aviation's first ETS deadline today as the EU plans to fold aviation into the scheme from 2012.

However, Germany, Italy, Sweden and the UK granted carriers varying extensions as the final list of administering states was not published until earlier this month, according to ETS advisory company SustainAvia.

It remains unclear how many operators from the Americas will take advantage of the extensions, which were chiefly available to US and Canadian airlines as most of these carriers were assigned to Germany or the UK.

Delta Air Lines reports to Germany but opted against taking advantage of that country's October extension.

A Delta spokeswoman explains that since the airline had to compile a plan for subsidiary Northwest Airlines to submit to the Netherlands today, the SkyTeam alliance member decided to also submit Delta's plan at the same time.

But she expects both airlines to report to Germany by 2011 once the carriers operate under the same certificate following their merger last year.

Some carriers have indicated they are taking advantage of the UK's postponement of the first ETS deadline, which was moved to November.

Air Canada falls under the UK's purview and will submit its monitoring plans by the November deadline, an airline spokesman says, declining to elaborate.

Continental Airlines also reports to the UK and will follow the UK's schedule, which has been extended, a Continental spokeswoman says, deferring further questions to ATA.

Meanwhile, most carriers from Latin America were assigned to Spain, which maintained today's deadline.

Colombian carrier Avianca submitted its plans to Spain in advance of today's deadline, an Avianca spokeswoman says, adding an extension would not have been required. The airline was able to collect the requested monitoring information easily, and is pursuing a tool to obtain information automatically in the future, she says.

The next ETS deadline airlines face is to begin tracking their emissions from January 2010 in accordance with the monitoring plans they submit this year.

Airlines could face a collective annual cost of more than $1.4 billion (€1 billion) from 2012 under the sector's inclusion in the ETS, according to research published this month by aviation consultancy RDC Aviation and energy sector market intelligence specialist Point Carbon.