Qatar Airways CEO calls on airline industry to collaborate and fight off the introduction of the Aviation EU ETS
Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker
Wed 10 Nov 2010 – Akbar Al Baker, CEO of fast-growing Middle East airline Qatar Airways, has called on IATA and ICAO to challenge regulations that will bring operators flying to and from Europe into the Aviation EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) from 2012. Speaking at the Doha Aviation Summit in Qatar, he said the two bodies should work collectively in the interests of airlines “to fight off the introduction of unnecessary charges that will eventually have to be passed onto consumers.” He said the charges were merely designed to fund government coffers and would not necessarily find their way back into the industry. Al Baker was echoing similar discontent over the EU ETS expressed by senior airline executives at the recent Arab Air Carriers Organization’s AGM in Cairo.
“There are two entities, IATA and ICAO, and I hope they realize how much dependence the world economy has on aviation,” said Al Baker.
He said the EU ETS forced the aviation industry to pay for permits for each tonne of CO2 emitted and Europe wanted the scheme – “its main tool for combating climate change” – adopted worldwide.
Al Baker believed passengers would be forced to pay for the scheme to the detriment of the industry as a whole.
“Governments should not be using airlines as a cash cow for their own inefficiencies,” he said. “They should try to work with airlines for the benefit of trade and commerce.” He added that one industry voice to tackle the issue was the way forward.
Gulf carriers, like Qatar Airways, that have already invested in new fleets believe the EU ETS regulations also fail to recognize the early adoption of their more fuel-efficient aircraft. They also point out that Middle East countries are designated as developing states under the UN climate change treaty and so do not have the same obligations as the developed states of Europe in reducing carbon emissions. There was disappointment in the region that the climate change resolution passed at the recent ICAO Assembly left room for Europe to proceed with its carbon trading scheme.
Referring to the EU ETS, IATA CEO Giovanni Bisignani told delegates to the second Ministerial Conference on Global Environment and Energy in Transport (MEET 2) held in Rome earlier this week that governments should not use the industry as a “cash cow” and reject “ineffective” regional schemes and instead concentrate on developing a global framework for economic measures under ICAO.
At the Doha Aviation Summit, Al Baker also criticized what he saw as growing discontent among European airlines about the rapid growth of Gulf carriers. Some major airlines in Europe have expressed competitive concerns over preferential loans available to airlines outside the region, but not to them, in order to purchase new aircraft.
“In order to put their own house in order, they are blaming us for their shortcomings,” he said. “They should be more efficient. They are worried because we are very cost focused, yet airlines in Europe are cost constrained and not allowed to grow because of their high cost base.”