Carriers say unilateral change would be anti-competitive and put them at a disadvantage

A UK government advisory panel has called for new rules on aircraft emissions and noise, but the proposals have met stiff resistance.

The Commission for Integrated Transport (CfIT), attached to the Department for Transport, issued a report urging the government to consider replacing passenger taxes with emission and noise charges.

The change would give airlines more incentive to cut pollution by making them financially responsible for all the industry's external costs, including noise, emissions and congestion, says the commission. Airlines would join the UK's emissions trading scheme, which allows lower polluting companies to sell surplus pollution allowances, and would also be allowed to trade noise permits along similar lines.

But the report has met opposition from UK airlines. EasyJet says it would be "anti-competitive to have this system just within the UK". British Airways says if the UK imposed new charges on foreign airlines flying into the country, other governments would retaliate against UK carriers abroad.

Airlines also oppose the commission's proposal to replace passenger duty with an emissions tax across the EU, following a similar suggestion by a UK parliamentary committee (Flight International, 12-18 August). "We're in favour of global emissions trading," says BA, "but if it only applies in Europe, EU airlines would be at a disadvantage."

The European Commission has also voiced opposition to reforming the aviation tax system. The head of its aviation environment unit, Eckhart Seebohm, says emissions charges cannot be imposed on non-EU airlines without international consent.

Consultancy CE Delft, which advised the CfIT, says including the external costs of pollution in ticket prices could add up to 30% to the price of a short-haul flight.

Source: Flight International