Anti-competitive aspects of the European Union Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) discriminate against the business aviation community on several grounds and must be addressed, said the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA).

While the industry trade body said it supports the principle of the EU ETS - which came into force on 1 January - it added that "business aviation is treated unfairly compared with other modes of air transport". On average, EBAA president Brian Humphries pointed out, business aircraft operators must acquire some 96% of their historical emissions in permits compared with 15% for airlines.

Humphries said that allowing Eurocontrol's Small Emitters Support Facility to carry out both the emissions reporting and verification could financially balance the discrepancy.

"It is deeply unfortunate that Member States have so far decided against coupling the small emitters' reporting tool with single-point verification (MRV)," Humphries said.

"In many cases, for smaller emitters, the costs for monitoring, reporting and verification far outweigh the costs of buying CO2 permits. As such, the MRV procedure threatens to weaken the competitiveness of European business aircraft operators compared with non-EU competitors," he added.

On protests by China and the USA that unilaterally charging their carriers under the ETS is against international law, although ruled legal by the European Court, Humphries said: "It is questionable whether the mechanisms put in place by the Commission to enforce compliance will be robust enough to resist widespread international resistance."

Fabio Gamba, EBAA's chief executive, said the ETS looks like being only one of several additional cost loadings during this recession. "The year 2011, and one expects the year 2012 as well, will record negative air transport figures amidst depressed demand and rising operating costs," he said.

"The EU ETS is predicated on growth, and it becomes redundant if not harmful when growth is negative or lack lustre at best. The EU ETS adds further costs to an already depressed sector and its introduction should have at least coincided with the disposal of national tax schemes that have nothing to do with environmental protection.

"Instead, we face a steady onslaught of ill-advised initiatives, the latest of which is in Italy, where privately owned aircraft will be taxed if they remain on Italian soil for more than 48 hours."

Gamba predicts the latter tax will be counterproductive because operators will find legal ways of avoiding liability for it.

Source: Flight International