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EasyJet and Ryanair criticise EU over emissions climbdown

EasyJet
EasyJet

Ryanair and easyJet have lashed out at a decision by the EU to exclude long-haul flights from its crackdown on jet emissions.

The budget airlines have said the move, announced on Wednesday, will make a mockery of Europe’s efforts to combat climate change.

It comes after Brussels bowed to pressure from long-haul airlines and dropped plans to include all flights from its study into the effects of non-CO2 emissions.

This means the inquiry will be limited to flights operating solely within the bloc, crucially excluding long-haul carriers such as Lufthansa, which runs flights from Europe to destinations further afield.

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The focus of the inquiry will be on the by-products of burning jet fuel, such as soot.

These have been blamed for the formation of contrails that some studies suggest may contribute more to global warming than carbon dioxide itself.

Ryanair and easyJet, the region’s two largest low-cost airlines – together with Hungary’s Wizz Air – said the EU’s decision will exclude 75pc of European emissions that come from long-distance flights.

The EU crackdown will pave the way for financial penalties, which will weigh far less on carriers that derive most of their earnings from lucrative long-haul journeys.

By contrast, low-cost carriers such as Ryanair operate almost wholly within Europe and may face levies on almost all of their services.

‘Detrimental to climate action’

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), whose membership is dominated by long-haul airlines, had lobbied the EU not to include all flights in the study.

This was on the basis that the science behind non-CO2 emissions is insufficiently advanced and that the required data gathering would be too onerous.

However, Ryanair, easyJet and Wizz Air urged the EU to revert to its original plan by scrutinising long-haul routes.

The three airlines said: “The bottom line is that we absolutely cannot end up with a blank dataset for an entire portion of European aviation. This would be detrimental to climate action.”

They said the plan would enter consultation over the next month, and added that they are still hopeful its scope could be expanded.

The EU climbdown is problematic because it will exclude hundreds of thousands of flights a year across the North Atlantic, where the prevailing weather conditions are ideal for contrail formation, the three companies said.