Thu 13 Aug 2009 – The European Commission has published its delayed list of aircraft operators to be included in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) from 2012. It now lists nearly 4,000 worldwide operators compared to the 2,755 that appeared on the original list published in February. France has seen the number of operators it was due to administer more than double, mainly due to the addition of 462 operators known only by their ICAO code or tail number but who are believed to be operators from French overseas territories. With less than three weeks before the August 31 deadline for the submission of emissions plans by many operators, Competent Authorities (CAs) are facing a major administrative challenge during the summer holiday season. Some CAs have just announced postponements to the deadline.
The revised list contains a total of 3,939 EU and non-EU aircraft operators to be administered by 27 EU member states (see table below).
The United Kingdom’s Environment Agency, which was previously administering the largest number of operators, has seen its workload increase as the original 780 operators has risen in total to 891. France is now the EU state with the largest number of operators under administration, having seen its list rise from 513 to 1,105.
France has so far declined to follow the lead of the United Kingdom and Germany in postponing the August 31 deadline for the submission of emissions monitoring plans but said it is willing to be flexible with struggling operators.
The UK government has said it can only transpose the aviation EU ETS regulations once the EC list of operators has been published in the European Union Official Journal, which the EC says is now scheduled to take place on August 22. The UK will then set a new deadline of 11 weeks after publication, bringing it to around early November. However, CAs are required to approve or reject all monitoring plans by December 31 as the start of the benchmarking year starts the following day on 1 January 2010. The UK will therefore have less than two months to fulfil this task, which would seem unlikely.
The German Emissions Trading Authority at the Federal Environment Agency hasstated its monitoring plan deadline is to be six weeks after the announcement of the list of aircraft operators assigned to Germany has been published in the German Federal Bulletin (Bundesanzeiger), which could stretch the deadline to early October.
Sweden has announced that the deadline for its operators has been extended to October 15. According to Julien Dufour of aviation ETS consultancy SustainAvia, Italy has just appointed a dedicated committee within the Ministry of Environment as its CA, which has already transposed the EU directive into national law and set a deadline of September 30. Hungary, meanwhile, has yet even to appoint a CA.
The addition of over 1,000 aircraft operators to the EC’s list, which has been compiled by Eurocontrol and covers aircraft movements since 1 January 2006, will surprise many as it was assumed many smaller operators would be removed who fell outside the scope of the EU ETS. An EC spokesperson told GreenAir Online that as well as the additional flight data from the French overseas territories, there are a number of factors to explain the changes from the preliminary list. These include:
· more complete data of aircraft operators active in 2008 (operators that started their activity in 2008 were not included in the preliminary list);
· additional flight data from specific EU states outside of the Eurocontrol area;
· a recalibration of the emission factors used based on the input of actual fuel burn data;
· increased precision as to the flights by aircraft under and over the 5.7 tonnes mass threshold;
· more comprehensive data on EU state flights; and
· more information on operating licences and air operator certificates (AOCs).
The revised list also includes military and government operators. The US Navy, for example, might be surprised to learn that it is included in the list under the administration of Italy. The aircraft of Afghanistan’s military forces are listed under Poland and the Indian Embassy appears under Portugal.
The EC spokesperson said military operators are included in the list if they had at least one flight which does not fall under exemptions listed in the Annex 1 and military aircraft could also be used for other than military purposes.
“I think the EC preferred not to exclude anybody because of the risk of error,” believes SustainAvia’s Dufour. “In some cases, they have no way of knowing if an operator should be excluded or not. For example, an operator is considered to be commercial if it has an AOC and there is no way the EC or Eurocontrol can know if an operator has an AOC or not (for operators outside of the EU). In this case, it is up to the operator to show evidence of its AOC.
“Similarly, being a small or big emitter is hard to define for the EC: again it is up to the operator to show evidence that it is above or below the threshold. And even if an operator is below the threshold in 2009, it may choose to comply because it expects to be above the threshold in 2010 and it does not want to lose the free allowances.
“Another example is over the exemption of flights carrying non-EU heads of state. In most cases the EC knows that a flight carries a Head of State but they have no way of knowing whether he or she is from the EU or from a country outside of the EU.”
Dufour says aircraft operators performing an aviation activity listed in Annex I to the EU Directive are
covered by the EU ETS whether or not they are on the list of operators. Conversely, aircraft operators that are on the list do not fall under the scheme if they do not perform an aviation activity listed in Annex I because, for example, they only perform exempted flights.
If an operator is not on the Commission’s list, but undertakes an Annex 1 activity, Dufour advises the operator to contact the Commission and inform them of its qualification to enter the scheme. The Commission may publish updates to the operator list over and above a requirement set out in the Directive to publish an update before the February 1 of each year. Only when the operator appears on the list will the operator and
appropriate regulator know which Member State they have been assigned to.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) reports that 182 of its 230 member airlines are listed in the updated list, with 14 new members now added, and eight members have had their administering state changed.
Quentin Browell, IATA’s Assistant Director, Aviation Environment, although welcoming the publication of the revised list “at last”, said serious anomalies still remained with the new version. “Some carriers that do not fly to Europe are on the list; some carriers that do fly to Europe are not on the list; and in some cases different divisions of the same airline report to different Competent Authorities,” he said.
“We will work with our airlines and the Commission to go through these problems. Now that the list is out, Member States can bring forward appropriate legislation with firm timetables for submitting monitoring plans. They can now inform their operators about what is required and by when, and most operators will now have greater certainty about which Competent Authority they are reporting to. Given the delay in publishing the list, we are looking to governments to be flexible and allow operators sufficient time to comply with deadlines to submit monitoring plans.”
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