Airlines take their responsibility to reduce their impact on the environment very seriously. With regard to aircraft noise, AEA member airlines are committed to mitigating their noise footprint and therefore continue to invest in fleet renewal. As a result of technological improvements, aircraft produced today are 75% quieter than they were 50 years ago. In addition, operational measures and enhancements in the areas of infrastructure and air traffic management further contribute to mitigating aircraft noise.

Air transport is also an emitter of carbon dioxide (one tonne of kerosene generates 3.15 tonnes of CO2), but alternative fuels to kerosene are not yet available on a commercial scale. However, contrary to common perceptions, aviation’s contribution to global warming is small, at about 2% of total man-made CO2.  This is by no means cause for complacency however, and for many years now AEA and its members have been committed to a robust emissions containment policy which decouples growth from emissions and translates into the concept of “Carbon Neutral Growth 2020” (CNG 2020), as part of ambitious industry goals, and the four-pillar strategy:

The four-pillar strategy

  • Improved technology, including the deployment of sustainable low-carbon fuels;
  • More efficient aircraft operations;
  • Infrastructure improvements, including modernized air traffic management systems;
  • Market-based measures, to fill the remaining emissions gap.


Market-based measures (MBMs)

  • Inclusion of Aviation into the EU ETS

The aviation ETS was originally designed to apply to all flights within, into and out of the EU. However, this scope led to trade disputes at international level.  Against this background, the EU facilitated progress at ICAO level to eventually achieve a global MBM by curtailing the scope of aviation ETS to cover intra-European flights only. In parallel, in autumn 2013 ICAO States decided to develop a global MBM for international aviation, for approval in 2016 and implementation in 2020. Nevertheless, the aviation ETS still has a negative impact on airlines operating on European routes. Depending on the outcome of the 2016 ICAO Assembly, the aviation ETS will be reassessed.   

  • Global MBM

AEA airlines are fully committed to a global market-based measure for international aviation under ICAO, to be developed by 2016 and implemented from 2020. A global MBM will complement emissions reductions resulting from investment in new technology, efficient infrastructure and operational improvements while avoiding a patchwork of different measures and possible trade disputes. We support the current proposal to introduce an offsetting scheme to attain CNG 2020. In this context, it is clear that the EU ETS cannot serve as a blueprint for the global scheme, as the views and circumstances of other parts of the world need to be taken into account.


AEA supports research, development and deployment of sustainable aviation fuels that meet environmental, societal and economic sustainability criteria. In this context, we call upon legislators to adopt common standards and specifications, including sustainability criteria, for alternative aviation fuels in collaboration with international partners; to increase financial support to R&D and to the deployment of sustainable aviation fuels; and to set positive incentives, without distortive effects, both for the airline industry and for other modes of transport.


Operating restrictions (such as night flight bans and curfews) should only be introduced as a last resort as they increase congestion at airports and limit connectivity. The “balanced approach” developed by the International Civil Aviation Organisation provides the most adequate method to address noise at and around airports in an environmentally responsive and economically responsible way. AEA strongly urges Member States to implement the “balanced approach” and consider all available measures to address noise. Member States should also facilitate measures on land-use planning, land-use management and research into technologies to reduce noise at source and in flight, as well as research aimed at improving the understanding of the impacts of noise.

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  • 16 April 2014

    Air transport partners welcome latest developments in EU rules

    Today, the European Parliament adopted a new regulation on the establishment of rules and procedures with regard to the introduction of noise-related operating restrictions at European airports. Airlines and airports welcomed the clarification and harmonisation of the methodology which will need to be followed prior to the introduction of any new noise mitigating measures.

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  • 19 March 2014

    AEA condemns the European Parliament Environment Committee’s rejection of the deal on aviation ETS

    This afternoon, the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) Committee of the European Parliament (EP) rejected the provisional trilogue agreement on how to amend the scope of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) for aviation. The deal was reached on 04 March after intense negotiations between the European Parliament, the Council and the European Commission. This file will now be put to a vote at the EP’s Plenary session in April.

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