Countries opposed to the EU Emission Trading Scheme are attending a US government meeting to fight the unilateral tax.
ETS is expected to cost the industry around £14 billion over the next eight years.
The EU says the cost to passengers will range from about £3 to £18 extra per ticket, depending on the flight. Airlines have already begun accruing the charge but will not be billed until 2013.
India, China, Russia and the US are among the countries most strongly opposed to the ETS.
Iata director general Tony Tyler said: “The onus is now on Europe to seize the moment, take credible action to defuse the situation, and get on with finding the global solution.”
He warned that the ETS as it stands could start “a trade war that nobody can afford”.
But EU climate change spokesman Isaac Valdero Ladron indicated to Sky News that Europe is unlikely to back down.
“I think the British man knows that he has to comply with US legislation, it is the same here in Europe. When others want to do business here and operate here, they have to comply with the environmental legislation here.
“It makes sense because there is a problem with growing emissions from a sector with no control whatsoever over its emissions.”
Sean Kennedy, a spokesman for US trade body Airlines for America, told Sky News: “The way we are going to reduce our emissions is to buy more fuel efficient aircraft, to do more research and development in new technologies, and to find a way to lower fuel costs.
“But if we’re spending $3 billion over the next eight years and sending it to the EU, that’s $3 billion we don’t have for those kind of investments and we simply aren’t going to be able to make the reductions that we need.”
Airlines for America has written to US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, as well as the US transport secretary, urging them to use the latest gathering to take action to stop the ETS.
The meeting is a follow-up to February’s “coalition of the unwilling”, where around 20 countries opposed to the levy met in Moscow to discuss strategies to end it.