British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh warned delegates that it is critical the European Union implement a workable emissions trading scheme (ETS) because in the near-term traffic growth would outstrip any emissions reductions made through technical and operational means.

Walsh said: "Ultimately we need technical breakthroughs. But in the near term emissions growth will outweigh savings, which is why we need a workable ETS.

"It is hard to exaggerate the importance of emissions trading. For the EU this is critically important. It allows the EU to show to the world that emissions trading can work.

"If we can show that emissions trading works within Europe we have a much better chance of showing the US and Asia that this is the best way for them too.

"It is so important that this scheme, on which so much depends, gets off to a good start."

But he also warned the EU that it had to ensure European carriers were not disadvantaged compared to non-EU airlines.

"I accept that the EU is in a position to lead but we must avoid making the system so burdensome that EU airlines give away too much to competitors," he said.

Source: Flight International