Tui air chief defends emissions trading against call for halt

The head of Germany’s aviation industry federation has called on the EU Council of Ministers to halt emissions trading as the German transport ministry downplayed the risk of airlines being embroiled in a trade war.

The intervention by the president of the BDL aviation industry federation at German trade show ITB in Berlin came amid an escalating international row over the EU emissions trading scheme (ETS) which was extended to airlines in January.

However, the head of Tui Travel’s German charter carrier, TUIfly, defended the scheme and called on other airlines to support it. TUIfly chief executive Dieter Nirschl said: “European airlines are not opposed to ETS. We are positive about it.”

Referring to opponents of the scheme, Nirschl said: “Chief executives have to take responsibility for emissions. It is not enough to say ‘We don’t want to discuss emissions’. We have to discuss emissions.”

Yet BDL president Klaus-Peter Siegloch, warned: “There is a risk of a trade war … [and] the EU Council of Ministers can halt the process.”

Siegloch argued: “We have to accept the costs of ETS, but we are confused. The politicians tell us emissions trading will not affect competition. But how is that possible? We will lose doubly if European carriers are the only airlines which pay for emissions and we are subject to sanctions.”

However, Hartmut Spickermann, deputy director general of civil aviation at the German Federal Ministry of Transport, said: “We can avoid an escalation. The parties are talking. We don’t want a trade war. We don’t want to see a US carrier land in Europe and not be allowed to take off.”

Spickermann acknowledged: “We were hit by a storm. Eighteen countries adopted a resolution against ETS. The Chinese said they would not take part. India said it will forbid flights [by European airlines] across its territory.”

But he said: “The EU scheme could be seen as an incentive and something positive.”

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