Gulf airline executives have lined up to criticise a new European law intended to reduce carbon emissions.
Akbar Al Baker, the chief executive of Qatar Airways, heaped scorn upon the European Union's Emissions Trading System (ETS), saying it would have a pronounced impact on fast-growing Gulf airlines.
"This is an indirect form of taxation to cover up the mismanagement they have been having of their finances for the last couple of decades," he said, speaking at the Global Aerospace Summit in Abu Dhabi yesterday.
"This ETS is going to be the most important thing in the future for Middle East carriers," he added. "We will be penalised because we're emitting more CO compared to peers in Europe or other places. We will be introducing more aircraft."
The ETS is a cap-and-trade system allowing companies to emit a certain amount of carbon dioxide per year, while also enabling them to trade allowances.
The system was expanded to cover airlines starting this year, and will be further expanded to cover the petrochemicals, ammonia and aluminium industries next year.
The move was also criticised by Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the chairman and chief executive of Emirates Group.
"It will hurt all the airlines," he said. "As an industry, what we want to see is this money being spent on aviation … At the end of the day, the passenger will pay."
Levels of carbon emissions from the Middle East increased by 171 per cent between 1990 and 2009 to a total of 1.5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide, according to data from the International Energy Agency.
The UAE's carbon emissions almost doubled during the period, while Qatar's output more than tripled. Airlines that fly into the EU have warned the ETS could spark a trade war. China has barred its airlines from joining the system.
Reducing carbon emissions could also be helped by overhauling air traffic control systems to minimise fuel loss, said David Hess, the president of Pratt & Whitney.
"We don't need punitive tax measures," he said. "Modernisation of air traffic control systems would have an immediate benefit to the carbon footprint of the industry."