The European Commission (EC) has invited bids for a major study of market-based options for reducing the environmental impact of aircraft operations.

The move, by the transport directorate (DGVII), comes as part of a wider formulation of environmental policy which will include the issue of a White Paper, or policy document, on the environment around the end of the year.

Kerosene taxation has been under consideration by Brussels for some time and was the subject of a study undertaken for the transport directorate by a Dutch group. The new study appears to confirm earlier reports that EC opinion is running against such a tax, which is seen as unworkable.

"In principle, kerosene taxation could lead to significant environmental improvements - in the event that all operators were taxed," says an EC official. "In practice, that is not possible because air services agreements exempt foreign operators from local taxation."

A kerosene tax on European-based operators only would be fiercely resisted by affected airlines which would seek to circumvent the measure. Non-European airlines, as well as being handed a competitive advantage, would have no incentive to reduce emissions.

The new study, which could take between six and nine months and for which a contract could be awarded late this year or early next year, will examine alternative market-based options.

The European Union has again delayed its controversial aircraft noise law, following assurances from the USA that it would work towards new international noise standards by September 2001. The US Administration had branded the proposed law restricting the use of hushkitted aircraft as discriminatory against US airlines.

Source: Airline Business