LONDON, March 28 A group of U.S. airlines has
dropped its private lawsuit challenging a European Union law
charging airlines for carbon emissions on flights to and from
Europe, calling on the U.S. government to take over the issue.
The new law took effect on Jan. 1, drawing dire warnings
from governments, airlines and planemakers that it could trigger
a global trade war and damage the aviation industry.
The suit was originally brought to the London High Court by
the Air Transport Association of America, American Airlines and
United Continental, but the court referred it to the
European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg.
On Dec. 21, the ECJ gave unreserved backing to the law, and
the case was due to return to the London court on Thursday.
However, Airlines for America, the Air Transport Association of
America under a new name, said it had dropped the suit.
A court spokeswoman confirmed that the matter had been
withdrawn and the Thursday hearing cancelled.
Airlines for America said opposition to the EU law was now
so widespread that it was appropriate to drop the lawsuit and
let governments take the lead. Despite the failure of its action
at the ECJ, the organisation said it had been useful in setting
the agenda for those opposed to the law, known as the European
Union Emissions Trading Scheme or EU ETS.
"Our legal action was critical in bringing to light that the
EU ETS violates international law and is an exorbitant money
grab, which are now key points in the governments' unified
opposition to the scheme," said Airlines for America President
and CEO Nicholas Calio in a statement.
"There is a clear path for the United States to force the EU
to halt the scheme and protect U.S. sovereignty, American
consumers, jobs and international law," he said.
EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard is in Washington
this week to discuss the issue.
The disputed law has a long lead time, so none of the
airlines face a bill until next year, after their emissions have
been calculated. The law requires all airlines flying to and
from EU airports to buy permits under the bloc's complex
emissions trading scheme.
The initial cost is expected to be minimal but would rise to
an estimated 9 billion euros ($12 billion) by the end of 2020.
The levy would apply to the entire length of an aircraft's
journey to an EU airport, including the section outside EU
As well as the United States, China and India have
complained that the EU went ahead with a scheme that applies to
their airspace, while the EU says it was forced to act after
years of international inaction on air travel pollution.