Fares to Europe May Spike in 2012 Due to International Showdown

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Starting in the New Year, Americans flying to European airports may have to pay roughly €6 to €12 (or about $8 to $16) per transatlantic plane ticket in surcharges.

The reason? The European Union has passed a law forcing airlines in the U.S. and other non-EU countries to pay for certificates for permission to emit carbon dioxide in its airspace.

The Air Transport Association of America along with United/Continental and American Airlines tried to stop the CO2 control surcharge with a lawsuit, claiming that the proposed system violates international law because it tries to tax businesses outside of E.U. territory.

But today a court ruled that the EU regulation is allowed under international law (decision, here). E.U. officials said they plan to go ahead with implementing the charge.

In response, support is growing for a bill in the House of Representatives that threatens to ban all flights to Europe from the U.S. unless the E.U. drops the law. That's how mad some Congressional members are about the legislation, which affects any plane that lands at a E.U. airport. It's doubtful such a ban would ever pass, though, and is just an effort at negotiating.

Earlier this week, India joined China in condemning the new E.U. law, too.

The E.U.'s attitude is “my way or the skyway,” as The Economist puts it. The E.U. claims that it is not creating a tax; it is creating a "pollution ceiling." It says that it is giving airlines an asset that they can trade on a public market, and that the market sets the value of the asset which is based on a right to pollute “a scarce and limited public resource."

What do you think? Are you willing to pay a surcharge of up to $16 per ticket to help prevent the environment? Or is the E.U. out of line?


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