A European airline has been denied a winter season permit for landing in India, and a question mark hangs today over all EU flights into the country from March 25. The move looks like being the first shot of retaliatory action fired over Europe’s unilateral introduction of carbon emissions trading on flights into Europe.
Several European airlines have been informed by Indian officials that the issue of new landing or overflight permissions will be abandoned until the Emissions Trading System (ETS) dispute is resolved.
Many European majors have yet to be issued with their summer season permits enabling them to land in the country from March 25.
EU officials are said to be aghast at the prospect of the move being an official government sanction, and airlines and bureaucrats in Europe are anxiously awaiting an official announcement by the Indian government that was promised for today.
“It may be the action of a rogue official in the country,” said one airline fuel manager, “but it could affect all airlines that have not yet received their summer season permit. We’re all waiting to find out at the moment.”
An EU source in Brussels confirmed to OPIS reports from the aviation industry that flights to or over India could be in question already from the 25th of this month.
“We are trying to get confirmation of this from the Indian government,” said the official, “but we can confirm that a number of European airlines have been informed today that new permits will not be issued.”
Since a meeting of aviation carbon trading opponents in Moscow on 22 February, EU airlines have been bracing themselves for the first signs of actual retaliatory action.
The move from India does not affect the bilateral traffic rights negotiated between Mumbai and European states per se. Instead, it’s understood that India would suspend the issue of new seasonal permits. These kind of permits are part of the workload of the IATA slots committee, which met in September.
To date, the controversy surrounding the EU’s trading system has been marked more by rhetoric than action.
If India goes ahead and issues its directive, then it will be the first significant shot fired in a trade war that is of increasing concern to airlines like IAG, and other European operators. The important trans-Siberian route to Beijing may be the next battle ground. Moscow has a history of imposing overflight charges.
“We are watching developments concerning Siberian airspace nervously and impatiently,” said one of the airlines concerned to OPIS.
BA’s environment chief, Jonathan Counsel, recently called for the EU to plan to exempt from the ETS any routes EU airlines operate where they face competition from an airline that is not in compliance with the system. That said, environmental groups are quick to point out that so far all the airlines that fly into Europe are fully in compliance with the scheme.
On Thursday 1. Feb, one tonne of wholesale jet fuel in the European spot cargoes market cost $1078.50/mt. OPIS’s European cargo Clean Jet Fuel assessment, including ETS carbon costs, was $1115.73/mt.