The European Union's law on carbon trading is set to have a major impact on small aircraft-operators and private owners, according to aviation law experts.
The scheme, which is designed to place the EU at the forefront of global efforts to reduce carbon output over the next few decades by as much as 80%, will see companies forced to pay for the amount of CO2 they produce through a credit trading system.
The scheme is already highly unpopular with the major airlines, who claim that the system will mire them in increased costs and a massive burden of bureaucracy.
Sue Barham is a partner specialising in aviation law at Holman Fenwick Willan.
"For companies in the business aviation industry, this is going to make things much more expensive," she said.
In future all aircraft operators, large and small, will along with other businesses be forced to buy credits for each tonne of CO2 they emit. If their emissions exceed their credits then they will be forced onto the carbon-trading market to buy additional credits, which will be sold by firms who have either bought extra or who have made their business more carbon efficient and reduced their need.
To soften the blow for major airlines, the EU has offered to hand over 85% of their first-year permits for free. The result is that the EU Commission anticipated that the new law will add around €6-12 onto the price of a transatlantic airfare.
However, smaller aircraft-operators will only receive 4% of their allowance for free in the first year, meaning they must shoulder a far greater burden of the costs.
Fabio Gamba is the chief executive of the European Business Aviation Association.
"We have to pay much, much, more than commercial airlines," he predicts.
The reason for the discrepancy is the formula the EU uses to calculate permit awards. The formula measures the aircraft's capacity against the miles it flies. As a result, a big passenger-aircraft is deemed far more efficient than a small private jet which might only carry a handful of passengers.
The bureaucracy is also proving a problem, with different member states initiating different schemes for the accounting process, meaning that transnational carriers will often have to submit the same data in several different formats.
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