Release #11.18
July 27, 2011

EU Emissions Scheme Risks U.S. Airline Industry Jobs
Congress Must Support Exempting U.S. Airlines

WASHINGTON – The Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), expressed to members of Congress today its staunch opposition to the European Union’s (EU) Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), citing the advancements that aviation has made in reducing emissions, the severe economic burden that would be placed on U.S. airlines, and questions about the legality of unilaterally imposing the scheme.

“The aviation industry takes seriously its environmental responsibility, and we have aggressively led efforts to cut carbon emissions by developing more fuel-efficient engines, using lighter-weight materials, creating biofuels, and capitalizing on satellite technology to route flights more directly and use less fuel,” said Capt. Lee Moak, ALPA’s president, following his testimony before the U.S. House Aviation Subcommittee’s hearing titled “The European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme: A Violation of International Law.”

Beginning in 2012, the EU ETS seeks to cap the annual carbon emissions for each airline and allocate an emissions allowance to each. Airlines would be required to surrender one allowance for every ton of CO2 emitted on a flight to or from the European Union. If an airline were to exceed its number of allowances, the scheme would impose a heavy financial penalty by forcing the airline to buy more.

The financial penalties exacted under the EU’s scheme would mean billions of dollars in additional cost for U.S. airlines over just the next several years. Moreover, the penalty would constitute a foreign tax on U.S. airlines that could be funneled to other countries’ treasuries with no certainty that funds would help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

ALPA’s president made clear that commercial aviation is a $1.3 trillion economic activity that employs 11 million people, and that the U.S. airline industry is already severely overtaxed. The taxes on airline tickets, which are imposed at rates similar to those levied against tobacco and alcohol, currently total more than $17 billion.

“A $300 domestic airline ticket currently includes $63 in taxes or 20 percent of the total ticket price,” said Capt. Moak following the hearing. “By piling on a foreign tax that will drive up ticket prices to the benefit of other countries, the EU Emissions Trading Scheme threatens the economic health of the U.S. airlines, risking U.S. jobs at a time when every job counts.”

In addition, ALPA maintains that the EU’s action to unilaterally impose the policy is at odds with customary international law and protocols and could conflict or become redundant with schemes in other countries.

“Airline pilots help cut carbon emissions every day and on every flight by operating their aircraft in ways that save fuel while ensuring safety,” continued Capt. Moak, who cited as examples flight operations techniques such as employing single-engine taxiing, technology-enhanced departure and arrival procedures, optimal altitudes and speeds, and continuous descent arrival procedures.

“At a time when so much is already being done in the aviation industry to reduce emissions, this EU Emissions Trading Scheme is bad for U.S. airlines and threatens the jobs of hard-working Americans,” concluded Capt. Moak. “Congress must join the administration in what must be a determined effort to exempt U.S. airlines from this disastrous policy.”

Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilot union, representing more than 53,000 pilots at 39 airlines in the United States and Canada. Visit the ALPA website at


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