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Aviation EU ETS

The EU Emission Trading Scheme (EU ETS) is a tool designed to monitor and limit emissions. It is the cornerstone of the EU's strategy for cutting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions cost-effectively and is the world's largest scheme for trading CO2 emissions.


The EU's ratification of the Kyoto Protocol requires total emissions of greenhouse gases in the EU to decrease to 92% of their 1990 levels in the 2008-2012 period.

By 2020, the EU’s objective is to achieve at least a 20% cut in emissions from the 1990 level, and possibly up to a 30% cut if a global agreement is reached.

The EU ETS initially concerned big industrial emitters only. In November 2008, the directive 2008/101/EC including aviation in the EU ETS was passed by the European Parliament. Aviation ETS became the first ETS specifically designed for the aviation sector.

Aircraft operators affected by Aviation ETS either need to cut down their own emissions, trade emissions in the European market, or invest in emission reduction projects internationally, whichever approach is the most cost-efficient.

In 2009, aircraft operators included in the scheme had to prepare, submit and implement annual emissions and tonne-kilometre monitoring plans.

Since the start of the first monitoring period on 1 January 2010, aircraft operators must monitor their aircraft emissions according to their approved monitoring plans, the EU regulations and the national legislation of their Administering Member State.

In April 2013, for the first time aircraft operators had to surrender carbon allowances that corresponded to their verified 2012 annual emissions.

In April 2014, the European Parliament and the Council agreed to restrict EU ETS to intra-European flights during the 2013-2016 period and to exempt non-commercial small emitters below 1,000 tCO2.



Although the aviation sector was included in the ETS in January 2012, the compliance process started in 2009. The first key deadline was 31 August 2009 and various deadlines have followed:
  • 5 August 2009 - The Commission published the list of operators included in the ETS
  • 31 August 2009 - Final date for submission of annual emissions and tonne-kilometre monitoring plans
  • 31 December 2009 - Final date for approval and implementation of annual emissions and tonne-kilometre monitoring plans
  • 1 January 2010 - Start of the first monitoring period for annual emissions and only monitoring period for tonne-kilometre data
  • 2 February 2010 - Date by which all Member States must have transposed the requirements of the Directive into National Law
  • 1 January 2011 - Start of the second monitoring period for annual emissions
  • 31 March 2011 - Final submission date for verified 2010 annual emissions and tonne-kilometre reports
  • 30 June 2011 - Each Member State submits tonne-kilometre data to the Commission
  • 30 September 2011 - The Commission publishes the tonne-kilometre benchmark
  • 31 December 2011 - Each Member State publishes the allocation of free allowances to each operator
  • 1 January 2012 - Start of the third monitoring period for annual emissions
  • 28 February 2012 - Each Member State issues free allowances for 2012 to those operators that successfully applied
  • 31 March 2012 - Final date for submission of the verified 2011 annual emissions report
  • 1 January 2013 - Beginning of EU ETS Phase 3
  • 31 March 2013 - Final date for submission of the verified 2012 annual emissions report ('stop-the-clock' rules, see FAQ 13, 20 and 23)
  • 30 April 2013 - Final date for the surrendering of allowances to offset 2012 emissions 
  • The reporting deadline for the 2013 monitoring period is pushed back to March 2015
  • New EU ETS legislation for the 2013-2016 period to restrict EU ETS to intra-European flights and to exempt non-commercial operators below 1,000 tCO2 (*)
  • 31 August 2014 - Member States publish the number of free aviation allowances to be allocated to aircraft operators for the period 2013-2016
  • 31 March 2015 - Final date for the submission of the verified 2013 and 2014 annual emissions reports covering intra-European flights only (28 February in Spain, 12 March in the Walloon Region and Czech Republic)
  • 30 April 2015 - Final date for the surrendering of carbon allowances to offset 2013 and 2014 emissions from intra-European flights
  • 30 June 2015 - Deadline for the application for the special reserve
(*) All Annex 1 flights (both intra- and extra-European flights) must be taken into consideration to determine the position of an operator with regard to the 1,000 tCO2 threshold. Operators above the 1,000 tCO2 threshold (including all Annex 1 flights) must report intra-European flights only.

For more information, read our F.A.Q.