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Latest update 03/02/2017: please see below for more details.


Aviation was integrated into the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) by Directive 2008/101/EC which became law on the 2 February 2009.  As of 1 January 2012 all aircraft operators who operate flights that arrive at or depart from an airport in the EU became subject to the scheme. This includes non-EU and EU aircraft operators.

As a result of strong international pressure by Third Countries, in October 2014 the Commission proposed to amend the EU ETS legislation by creating a, so called, airspace model whereby international flights would ‘pay’ for their emissions in EU airspace. Intra-EU flights would remain fully captured by the scheme.

ERA’s position continues to be that the EU ETS scheme should be suspended until ICAO has been able to implement a global solution to aviation’s impact on the environment.

ERA members have always considered the EU ETS as a fair and cost-effective Market-Based scheme to help tackling aviation emissions together with other measures (operations, technology, traffic management improvements).

Unfortunately, an intra-EU Emissions Trading Scheme, as adopted in April 2013, simply resulted in competitive distortions to the detriment of many European regional and point-to-point carriers, whose operations take place primarily within Europe.

The amended ETS scheme will continue to impose cost and complexity on their European operations with little or no overall environmental benefit. As a result, airlines will be financially impacted at different degrees depending on the proportion of the European versus non-European flights they operate.


Latest update 03/02/2017:  On 03 February 2017, the European Commission (EC) made a proposal for the revision of the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) prolonging the existing temporary limited scope of the scheme that applies to flights within the European Economic Area (EEA) only. In practice this means that no new requirements will be introduced for flights into and out of the EEA until 2021 when ICAO’s global scheme (CORSIA) will be introduced but the current intra-EEA system will be retained. ERA responded to the EC announcement with a press release and is now launching a lobbying campaign as the EC proposal progresses through the European Parliament & Council. 

ERA has consistently argued that the current reduced scope of the EU ETS has limited environmental effectiveness but imposes considerable administrative burdens on many ERA members, and it would therefore make sense to suspend the scheme ahead of CORSIA coming into force. Nonetheless, this EC proposal will bring clarity for operators inside and outside the EEA. We have also welcomed the commitment by the EC to a further review of the EU ETS prior to CORSIA coming into force. Without such a review, there is a considerable risk of a dual scheme post 2021 which would penalise our members.

We have also argued that economic instruments, such as the EU ETS, are only one means of reducing aviation’s CO2 impact. Improvements in technology, infrastructure (air traffic management) and operational measures have considerable potential to reduce CO2 emissions and we are continuing to push EU states to deliver projects such as the Single European Sky. 

Through the Council for Environmentally Friendly Aviation (CEFA) ERA is following the developments at ICAO level and is working closely with the European Commission and IATA to defend the particular interests of the European airlines and, more specifically regional airlines. The next CEFA meeting is scheduled in Brussels on 10 May 2017.


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