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The EU risks starting an aviation war with China by imposing green air taxes on the rest of the world, warned IAG chief executive Willie Walsh yesterday.

Passengers could end up paying much more if European emissions standards are inflicted on non-European countries, he cautioned.

Formerly BA chief executive, he is now in the cockpit of the airline group that includes BA and Iberia.

He said: ‘There is a concern around other countries that Europe sees itself as having the right to impose these rules on them. It risks retaliation by stronger economies.’

Some were already hitting back, he said, citing China’s refusal to purchase Airbus planes. He added: ‘The risk is other countries imposing taxes on airlines flying in from Europe.

‘You would end up with this ridiculous situation where customers would end up paying many times over the environmental costs in duty because each side has put their own taxes on the flights.’

He said: ‘These taxes wouldn’t even go towards environmental issues. There is no evidence of these taxes going to the environment. I have no problem with the EU regulating emissions within their jurisdiction. The problem has been created by Europe imposing its solution on the rest of the world.’

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