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Allocation of aviation allowances in an EEA-wide Emissions Trading System

Unlike fixed installations, aircraft operators in the European Economic Area will continue to receive the large majority of their emission allowances for free throughout phase three of the EU emissions trading system (2013-2020).


Benchmarks for free allocation

Free aviation allowances are allocated to more than 900 aircraft operators who applied for free allocation by reporting their verified tonne-km data for 2010.

The free allocation is calculated on the basis of benchmark values established in European Commission and EEA Joint Committee decisions taken in 2011.  In phase three, an airline receives 0.6422 allowances per 1,000 tonne-kilometres flown.

The benchmark was calculated by dividing the total annual amount of free allowances available by the sum of tonne-kilometre data included in applications by aircraft operators submitted to the Commission.  The submissions by aircraft operators were based on independently verified tonne-kilometre activity data recorded throughout the 2010 calendar year.

The allocation of free allowances to each aircraft operator is carried out by Member States. They calculate the allocation by multiplying the benchmark by the verified 2010 tonne-kilometre data of each eligible aircraft operators who applied.

It has to be noted, however, that between 2013-2016, according to Article 28a of Directive 2003/87/EC, as amended by Regulation (EU) No 421/2014, aircraft operators shall be issued a number of free allowances reduced in proportion to the reduction of surrender obligation provided for in the same article.

The information on the allocations by Member States is available under the Links tab at the top of this page.

Cap on total allowances

The cap on total allowances for phase three has been provisionally set at 210,349,264 per year. This is equivalent to 95% of 'historical' emissions, as specified in the EU directive on aviation in the EU ETS. The cap will be adjusted to include additional aviation activities arising from Croatia's full integration into the aviation part of the EU ETS on 1 January 2014.

82% of the allowances are granted for free to aircraft operators and 15% are auctioned. The balance of 3% is held in a special reserve for later distribution to fast growing aircraft operators and new entrants in the market.

'Historical' aviation emissions

The annual average of CO2 emissions in the years 2004, 2005 and 2006 forms the baseline for 'historical' aviation emissions in the European Economic Area. The annual average for these years has been calculated at 221 420 279 tonnes. This historical baseline is laid down in a 2011 decision of the EEA Joint Committeepdf Choose translations of the previous link  . The phase three cap is set at 95% of this historical baseline.

The calculation of historical aviation emissions was based on data from EUROCONTROL (the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation) and actual fuel consumption information provided by aircraft operators. Additional calculations were carried out to account for fuel consumption associated with the use of the auxiliary power units (APUs) on aircraft at airports.

All legislative documents as well as the methodology describing the calculation of historical aviation emissions are available under the Documentation tab on top of this page.