British airlines BA and Virgin Atlantic have complained that a new carbon-trading scheme is said to increase their costs and potentially jeopardise their ability to provide cheap flights to the USA and other long-haul destinations.
The European Commission is set to issue new carbon permits, based upon the levels of carbon dioxide released in 2010 by Europe’s carriers, on both cheap flights to Europe itself, and services to more far-flung locations. However, both British Airways and its arch-rival Virgin Atlantic have insisted that they deserve special treatment when it comes to the permits.
As the scheme currently stands, British airlines are going to receive fewer permits due to the lower levels of CO2 they allegedly emitted due to the six-day closure of UK airspace last April due to the volcanic ash attack – an event which also cost the airlines untold lost revenue due to the thousands of cancelled cheap flights and the compensation paid out to passengers.
The imbalance in permits is due to the fact that many continental airlines – especially those in the south – were able to operate near-normal schedules. BA is especially put out because it also suffered 22 days of strike action by cabin crew, which also had a knock-on effect on its ability to operate its cheap flights.
A spokesman said: “We are disappointed that 2010 will be the base year because of the unprecedented level of disruption,” with their counterpart at Virgin adding: “We have asked the Commission to resolve a number of outstanding issues before aviation becomes part of the emission trading scheme, and this distortion in the allocation of permits is one of them.”