Europe’s biggest airlines will pay more than €5 billion in national environmental taxes and other payments this year – funds which could have been used to support the industry’s decarbonisation efforts, according to Airlines for Europe (A4E).
Europe’s largest airline association said this includes around €590 million in expected payments to the European Union’s ETS, (+59 per cent vs 2018) which airlines have been a part of since 2013. Aviation is the only transport sector which participates in the ETS.
A4E said it airline members remain focused on positive solutions with a high potential to lower emissions levels, investing more than €169 billion in environmentally-friendly technologies until 2030.
This includes the purchase of around 800 fuel-efficient aircraft, which have already reduced emissions by 24 per cent between 2005 and 2017, and over €1 billion in the set-up of innovative partnerships designed to fast-track the production of sustainable aviation fuels in Europe.
In addition, A4E said from 2020 onwards, the UN’s global aviation carbon emissions reduction scheme, CORSIA, will enable airlines to deliver on the industry’s goal of carbon-neutral growth by early 2020.
As of July 2019, 80 states representing 77 per cent of international aviation activity have voluntarily signed up to CORSIA – and more than half of these states are European. CORSIA will result in the mitigation of around 2.5 billion tons of CO2 between 2021 and 2035, with airlines paying to offset their emissions by investing in climate-friendly projects.
“The claim that airlines are not paying environmental taxes is completely false,” said Michael O’Leary, chairman of A4E and Ryanair CEO (pictured left). “This environmental debate has been badly misinformed. Globally, European airlines are the only airlines paying environmental taxes, forecast at over €5 billion in 2019, including €590 million in ETS, up from €370 million in 2018, a 59 per cent increase.
“More aviation taxes are a knee-jerk reaction that will undermine European competitiveness and particularly hurt the integration and free movement of EU citizens, especially for peripheral and island Member States such as Ireland, Spain, Portugal and the Baltic States, for example.”
A4E managing director, Thomas Reynaert added that EU policy-makers “have missed an opportunity” to reduce aviation emissions by failing to reform the European sky or by making sustainable fuels sufficiently available for aviation.
“Rather than introducing new taxes – which do nothing to make flying more sustainable – EU governments should recognise and support airlines’ sustainability initiatives with better research and development opportunities,” Reynaert added.
A4E members include Aegean, airBaltic, Air France-KLM, Cargolux, easyJet, Finnair, Icelandair, International Airlines Group (IAG), Jet2.com, Lufthansa Group, Norwegian, Ryanair, TAP Air Portugal, Smartwings and Volotea.
With more than 700 million passengers carried each year, they account for more than 70 per cent of the continent’s journeys, operating more than 2,900 aircraft and generating more than €110 billion in annual revenue.