“A very unexpected but very welcome development, which may now temporarily prevent a full scale trade war” is the response of David Scowsill, President and Chief Executive of the World Travel & Tourism Council, to the EU’s decision to postpone the full introduction of its emissions trading scheme (ETS). The WTTC also supports the ‘one hub or none’ concept for London.
WTTC has long argued that a market-based global mechanism is the best way for aviation to balance its huge economic and social contribution with its impact on climate change. However, WTTC also advises the EU to avoid the imposition of the ETS for intra-European air travel: “The EU has recognised that the issue needs to be tackled on a global level, so it seems illogical to proceed with a European-only scheme that loads European airlines with the cost and complexity of operating the scheme.
“The European decision to open up its skies to foreign airlines conveys the message that aviation is truly a global industry sector and therefore a global solution has always been considered the most desirable and logical way to avoid unnecessary regional distortions.
“Although there are differing opinions from European airlines regarding the freeze on the policy implementation, the market will grow competitively and therefore the travel and tourism industry will see more jobs and multiplier effects. WTTC supports the global role to be played by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and believes the process should be allowed to run its course towards establishing a global market-based mechanism to manage carbon emissions.
David Scowsill said: “The EU has taken two steps forward and one step back on emissions trading. It has recognised that it must not go it alone on emissions trading and the one-year standstill on the global scheme is both unexpected and welcome. However, the decision to retain ETS for intra-European aviation is illogical and possibly counter-productive. It is apparent that the original imposition of the emissions trading scheme brought the world close to a trade war on this issue, with governments enacting legislation to forbid their national airlines to comply. The pressure is now on government to deliver a solution through ICAO, before the industry faces another heated debate, deterring barriers for growth in this important global industry.”
London Airport Capacity
On the question of airport capacity for London, the WTTC said: “The UK has been losing trade and wealth to other European countries for several years, due to the lack of runway capacity in the South East of England and supports the ‘one hub or none’ concept proposed by BAA and supported by a number of UK airlines.
“Travel and tourism is worth over $100 billion to the UK economy and helps sustain 2.3 million jobs. However, growth in UK travel and tourism is being seriously inhibited by the lack of airport capacity in the South East.
“WTTC wholeheartedly supports the concept of a single hub for London properly connected to the wider transport network. Previous experience in London and almost all international examples demonstrate that operating twin airports hubs is a policy destined to fail.”
David Scowsill said: “The UK Government welcomes tourists with one hand while holding up a ‘keep out’ sign with another. UK visa policies are overly bureaucratic and cumbersome; UK Air Passenger Duty is the highest of any country in the world; yet it is the incessant delay in providing new airport capacity that is by far the biggest problem facing travel and tourism in the UK.
“The Davies Commission will take too long to review the position. The private sector stakeholders of the travel and tourism Industry stand ready to be the earnest partner in delivering on solutions. The UK Government should grasp the nettle and make a decision that will bring jobs and economic growth at a crucial time for the UK economy.”