Deutsche Lufthansa AG’s supervisory board chairman and former chief executive, Juergen Weber, Tuesday slammed European and German politicians in an unusually blunt manner, saying that the continent’s aviation industry is considerably squeezed by regulations and levies.
Addressing shareholders at the company’s annual general meeting, Weber said that the inclusion of the aviation industry to the European Union’s carbon dioxide emissions trading scheme–known as E.U. ETS–could prompt a trade war with opponents of the system, including the U.S., China and others.
“A trade war over the issue of CO2 trade will demote the European aviation industry to the third league” of the global industry, Weber said.
His comments come after airlines and governments in other parts of the world have threatened potential retaliation over the E.U.’s unilateral introduction of CO2 trade for the airline sector.
Orders worth billions of euros for Franco-German aircraft manufacturer Airbus, a unit of European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co. EADS NV, came under threat last month, as a European aerospace industry official said China is holding back the approvals Chinese airlines need to buy another 10 Airbus A330 jetliners, in a move that was part of the escalating row over the EU plan that’s spilling into the trade sector.
China said in February it was prohibiting its airlines from paying for carbon emissions under the new EU system.
Weber’s comments also echoed those made by Chief Executive Christoph Franz earlier Tuesday, who said that the airline expects over EUR700 million in additional costs from regulatory intervention, including CO2 trade.