Major US airlines have mounted a legal challenge to European Union regulations that would cap allowable jet emissions and force carriers to pay up for exceeding limits.
The Air Transport Association, the lead trade group for US airlines, as well as three carriers, American Airlines, United Airlines, and Continental Airlines, filed suit in London.
The British government is the first to start implementing early stages of the EU scheme, which goes into effect in 2012. It would impose caps on carbon emissions and require carriers that exceed limits to purchase credits.
US airlines want the European Court of Justice to review the matter, saying the plan is overly broad, logistically complex, and too expensive at a time when the industry is losing billions annually.
If the regulation stands, US airlines contend that ticket prices for flights into and out of EU nations would jump sharply to account for costs associated with the emissions trading formula.
US and other non-European airlines favour establishment of one global standard through the United Nations for reducing emissions rather than a patchwork of regional policies.