Airlines will face a bill of up to €1.4 billion ($1.9 billion) when they are included in the European Union's emissions trading scheme (ETS) in 2012, rising to €7 billion in 2020, according to Thomson Reuters Point Carbon.
The analysis used to produce these figures is based on the European Commission's announcement yesterday that airlines will receive allowances to emit almost 213 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2012.
From 2013 onwards, the aviation sector will have access to 208.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide permits each year.
Thomson Reuters Point Carbon estimates that this will leave airlines facing an allowance shortfall of 88.5 million tonnes, with a cost implication of €1.4 billion in the first year of their inclusion in the ETS.
The analysis suggests that airlines will have to surrender one allowance for every tonne of CO² they emit, meaning that they will need to purchase a third of their requirements at market prices.
"The 10 largest airlines in terms of CO² permit allocation will be Lufthansa, Air France, British Airways, KLM, Ryanair, Iberia, Delta, EasyJet, Virgin Atlantic and Alitalia, in that order," says RDC Aviation managing director Peter Hind, adding that these airlines will be in line for 43% of the total free emissions permits. They will also account for 23% of the total airline industry's shortfall.