Presidents of the major European airlines have accepted the need to address the environmental responsibilities of their sector, according to the Association of European Airlines (AEA).
During the recent biannual gathering of the airlines' bosses in Berlin, the proposal for a European emissions trading scheme (ETS) to target global warming was discussed with European Commission vice president and transport commissioner Jacques Barrot.
The AEA reports that the airlines agreed in principle to a trading scheme, but argued it should be seen as part of the measures designed to minimise the impact of the aviation industry on the environment.
Although agreeing in principle, the leaders also warned that the proposed ETS will damage the competitiveness of European airlines and requires further analysis of the consequences of the scheme on Europe’s economies, financial situation, tourism and environment.
"As it stands, this proposal discriminates against aviation vis-a-vis other sectors already included in the EU ETS", said AEA secretary general Ulrich Schulte-Strathaus.
"We also feel that the possible repercussions of such a proposal on international relations have not been thought through. This text is unbalanced. It should be changed now, or withdrawn and changed in consultation with the industry before being presented to the commissioners."
Other measures needed, the leaders said, include further technological developments of engines and aircraft, and infrastructural improvements such as the creation of a European single sky, which the AEA believes could cut aircraft emissions over Europe by 12 per cent.
Last week the European Regional Airline Association said that although the industry needed to tackle environmental issues, singling out air transport alone is not going to solve the problem of global warming.