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US bill blocks EU ETS, ASTA applauds

ASTA is applauding the US House of Representatives’ unanimous passage of a bill (S. 1956) that prevents the European Union (EU) from imposing pollution control taxes on the US aviation industry. The bill, which the Senate had also passed unanimously in September, now heads to President Obama’s desk. Nina Meyer, ASTA’s president and interim CEO, said: “Air travel is the cornerstone of the US travel and tourism industry, and ‘selling air’ remains a significant contributor to the bottom lines of travel agents across the country. ASTA has long been concerned about proposals that would increase the already-significant tax burden on and cost of air travel, and thus welcomes Congress’ unanimous rejection of the EU’s ill-considered scheme.” Earlier this year, the EU announced that it would include the aviation industry in its “cap and trade” pollution control system, meaning it would apply to all flights arriving at or departing from EU airports, including US airlines. While full implementation of the EU’s plan is being delayed until October 2013 at the earliest, it remains one of concern to U.S. aviation stakeholders. According to Airlines for America (A4A), the estimated cost of the EU program to US-based carriers is more than $3.1 billion from now until 2020, enough to support more than 39,200 airline jobs. The newly passed bill — S. 1956 — would prohibit US airlines from participating in the EU’s system so long as the U.S. Secretary of Transportation decides it is in the public interest.

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