On 2 February 2009, Directive 2008/101/C formally brought aviation into the European Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS). Aviation activities will be included in the EU ETS from 1 January 2012, although aircraft operators will have to submit benchmarking plans by 31 August 2009 and verified pre-compliance emissions reports by 31 March 2010.
All flights arriving at or departing from EU airports are covered, regardless of the nationality of the aircraft operator. Member States will be responsible for ensuring compliance with the requirements of the legislation by those aircraft operators to which they issued an operating licence and whose emissions in 2006 were mostly attributable to that Member State. On 11 February 2009 the Commission issued the preliminary list of over 2,700 aircraft operators and their administering Member States. Around a quarter of all aircraft operators, some 780 carriers, will be regulated by the UK.
Only commercial aircraft operators that (a) fly fewer than 243 flights for three consecutive four month periods or (b) emit less than 10,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year or (c) operate aircraft weighing less than 5,700kg will escape inclusion in scheme. However, simplified monitoring, reporting and verification procedures will still apply to small emitters (i.e. (a) and (b) above). Total exemptions apply for State, military, training, test, ferry and repositioning flights.