Germany fines aircraft operators $5.9 million as it publishes first Aviation EU ETS non-compliance list
Thu 5 Mar 2015 – Germany has become the first EU country to publish a list of aircraft operators that have not complied with the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) in 2012, the first year of the aviation sector’s inclusion. According to the German Emissions Trading Authority (DEHSt), fines totalling €5,363,400 ($5.9m) have been levied on the 44 operators named. Most are small aircraft operators but two major German airlines, Air Berlin and Condor, have surprisingly found their way onto the list. The two carriers say this was due to small discrepancies in reporting and have received only small fines. Notable by their absence are Air China and Aeroflot, which both operated flights within the European Economic Area (EEA) during 2012 and so are still subject to the reduced scope of the EU ETS but whose governments have not permitted them to comply.
Under Article 16 of the EU directive that brought aviation into the EU ETS, EU member states must publish the names of aircraft operators they administer that are in breach of requirements to surrender sufficient allowances to cover their emissions but until now have not done so. For 2012, the allowances were required to be submitted by the end of April 2013 but nearly two years on, an unspecified number of airlines and smaller aircraft operators remain non-compliant.
The directive requires member states to issue penalties amounting to €100 for each tonne of CO2 emitted for which the aircraft operator has not surrendered allowances. The operator is still required to purchase and surrender the requisite number of allowances on top of the fine.
In order to surrender allowances, operators must open an account in the Union Registry, where the reported verified emissions data is recorded on the EU Transaction Log (EUTL). If the operator has complied up to this point and the emissions have been reported then working out the penalty for not surrendering is easy. However, difficulties arise if the operator has not reported its emissions and fails to respond to approaches from its appointed administering national Competent Authority, which then has to rely on data from Eurocontrol. Operators are then given time to appeal against estimated emissions, which can also add to the delay in enforcement.
Each member state will have transposed the directive into its national legislation differently so enforcement procedures and ‘naming and shaming’ reporting varies from state to state. What has been clear is a reluctance by states to publish publicly-available lists of non-compliant airlines, particularly those from outside Europe. Some argue this is because of political sensitivities as discussions continue at an international level to agree a global market-based measure that is intended to do away with Europe’s carbon trading scheme. The original full scope of the EU ETS, which was designed to encompass emissions from all flights to and from the European Economic Area (EEA), as well as intra-EEA flights, was fiercely and successfully fought by the major powers such as India, China, Russia and the United States.
Carriers from the United States that operate flights between airports in the EEA are largely complying with the reduced intra-EEA scope agreed by the EU institutions last year. However, Indian and Chinese airlines operating similarly within Europe are still refusing to comply on orders from their authorities, as well as the majority state-owned Russian carrier Aeroflot. India’s main airlines serving Europe, Air India and Jet Airways, report to the UK’s nominated Competent Authority, the Environment Agency, but neither appears to have complied with the regulations for 2012, although it is unclear if they operated any intra-EU flights in 2012. Under UK legislation, the names of EU ETS non-compliers are meant to be published by the end of each June but so far no list has appeared for 2012.
Both Aeroflot and China’s flag carrier Air China report to Germany but neither appears on the list just published by DEHSt. During the 2012 compliance period, Air China operated regular passenger flights between Athens and Munich, and Aeroflot carried out regular cargo flights between Frankfurt and Helsinki. DEHSt will not comment on individual cases but says non-appearance on the list may be due to a “definitive payment order” not existing, which essentially means the process has not been fully completed and so other names may be added to the list at a later date.
According to DEHSt, aircraft operators have been issued with tax penalties totalling €5,363,400 ($5.9m) for not meeting their 2012 obligations, with the largest fine amounting to €3,017,800 ($3.3m) and the smallest €80 ($88).
Airberlin, Germany’s biggest airline after Lufthansa, said it received a “comparatively small” fine of less than €1,000 ($1,100). “This was due to a marginal discrepancy between the number of allowances submitted to DEHSt and the actual emissions on a particular airport pair in 2012,” a spokesperson explained to GreenAir.
A spokesperson for Condor said the reason for its fine was due to technical problems concerning the transmission of data but confirmed all issues had been satisfactorily resolved.
Other names on the DEHSt list include US cargo carriers Ryan International and Evergreen International, although both have since ceased operations having filed for bankruptcy. Another US airline listed, World Airways, stopped operations a year ago but according to the EUTL surrendered the required number of allowances but possibly not until after the deadline.
Although it has not published a list, the French Competent Authority, DGAC, is understood to have recently started issuing non-compliant aircraft operators with fines. The Flemish authorities, whilst not having published any names, is believed to have fined Saudi Arabian Airlines around €800,000 ($880,000) some months ago.
According to the European Commission, over 100 non-EU aircraft operators carried out intra-EEA flights during 2012, most of which complied with the EU ETS, pointed out an official.
Following approaches to the DEHSt, GreenAir has learned that some of the details that appear on their website, and therefore in the article, about penalties are misleading. In total, 60 aircraft operators have received payment notices or fines amounting to €5,363,400 ($5.9m) relating to non-compliance in 2012. The 44 operators listed on the website are deemed to be “definitive” and have received fines totalling €597,000 ($630,000), with the smallest fine €100 and the largest €203,600. The other 16 operators have been issued penalty notices totalling €4,766,400 ($5m) but are not yet definitive because they are being contested. The DEHSt cannot provide any details of these operators or the range of the fines until they are “legally valid”. The single fine of €3,017,800 ($3.3m) mentioned on the website relates to a fixed installation covered by the EU ETS and not an aircraft operator. The article states that Germany is the first to publish a list of non-compliant aircraft operators but in fact the Italian authorities have also published a list of 13 operators that failed to comply in 2012 (link here).