Since 1993, Le Thi Mai has been General Manager Environment at the Association of European Airlines (AEA), which represents 35 major airlines in Europe. She previously worked for Air France where she was in charge of European affairs for 12 years.

What is the Emission Trading Scheme's expected impact in terms of emission reductions? The available figures are contradictory

Everything depends on the rate of traffic. A 4% increase in traffic generates a 3% increase in CO2 emissions. Due to the economic crisis, traffic falls and emissions fall. CO2 savings are possible simply because airlines are no longer flying or are flying less. The real impact cannot be calculated. The same goes for the impact on passengers. How many will desert planes? We do not know. Low cost airlines will be most affected and some regional routes will disappear. Environmental NGOs assume that our growth is unlimited. But all of the figures and forecasts remain highly theoretical.

Environmental organisations claim that airlines will make profits thanks to the ETS, passing the cost of licences received free of charge onto their customers. They are drawing a parallel with the electricity sector

This is biased reasoning. Firstly, elasticity is not the same in both sectors. They assume that passengers will accept everything but passengers will consider whether or not to continue flying. We cannot compare this with the electricity sector. You do not have the choice about switching on a light in the evening. But you can choose whether to fly or not. Secondly, if an airline can sell extra licences, this does not mean that it is making a net profit. It will have made considerable investments to fall below the imposed limit. It will only recover part of its initial investment.

The future of Europe's ETS is being played out in the international arena, possibly with the decision to include aviation in the Kyoto Protocol during the negotiations in Copenhagen next December. Will the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) manage to agree on a common position for Copenhagen, considering that there has been no progress on this issue for years?

Next October will be decisive because that is when the ICAO will reach its political decision on the position to be defended in Copenhagen in December. The preparatory work by...

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