Congressman Mica Leads US Delegation To Stop EU Air Tax

10/21/2011 01:16 pm 13:16:55 | Updated Dec 21, 2011

A US delegation led by Congressman John L. Mica met in Montreal today to with representatives of the International Civil Aviation Organization to express opposition to an aviation tax to be levied by the European Union.

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman met with ICAO leaders to discuss the EU's emissions trading scheme, under which all airlines would have to pay for costly emissions permits for flights to and from EU airports.

"If imposed on January 1st, this tax could close down direct travel from most central and western US airports to Europe and remaining airline ticket costs would skyrocket. This ill-conceived EU aviation tax scheme is a violation of international law,” Mica said in a press release.

According to a July testimony by Nancy Young of the Air Transport Association, "...US airlines will be required to pay into EU coffers more than $3.1 billion between 2012 and year-end 2020.... Now consider that the costs could be twice as high if the cost of carbon allowances in Europe returns to where it was within the past couple years."

North American airlines have argued that such rules impacting the industry outside the bloc can't be imposed by the EU. They also asserted that the EU doesn't have the jurisdiction to require permits for emissions produced during the entire flight, or even stretches that cross the air space of non-EU countries. American Airlines, along with United/Continental and The Air Transport Association of America, have gone so fare as to take the EU to court, arguing that its imposition of emissions caps on non-European carriers is contrary to international law. Earlier this month, the European Court of Justice ruled that the current plan is legally sound.

On its website American Airlines expressed concern that the EU was acting rashly: "We believe airline GHG emissions should be addressed under a global approach, rather than through a unilateral action by the UK government or the EU. Our position is that the International Civil Aviation Organization, the United Nations body charged by treaty with establishing environmental and other standards for international aviation, is the appropriate entity to establish such measures."

In September, the EU eased its cap and trade plan. Airlines are allowed to pass the cost of carbon permits to passengers.

The House of Representatives is expected to consider the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme Prohibition Act of 2011 next week. If passed, the legislation would prohibit US airlines from participating in the emissions trading scheme.

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