Paris China is blocking orders for at least $12 billion (Dh44 billion) worth of Airbus jets to protest the European Union's emissions trading fees, in a new challenge to the programme aimed at fighting global warming, the aircraft maker said Thursday.
With some analysts warning of a brewing trade war, Airbus spokesman Stefan Schaffrath said his company is seeing "retaliation threats" from 26 countries, "in particular from China."
He said 35 orders by Chinese airlines for A330 planes are on hold because China's government is refusing to approve them. He said orders for another 10 A380 superjumbos are also under threat, and that the combined list prices of the aircraft is $12 billion.
"The economic impact is real," he said. Officials at the Chinese Embassy in Paris could not be reached for comment.
EU officials defended the emissions system. Asked about the Airbus complaint at the daily midday briefing, EU spokesman Isaac Valero Ladron said: "I'm not in a position to make any comments about possible trade decisions. I think it's in everybody's interest to reduce greenhouse gases."
The emissions trading system went into effect at the start of the year as part of European efforts to reduce global warming.
Airlines flying to or from Europe must obtain certificates for carbon dioxide emissions. They will get free credits to cover most flights this year but must buy or trade for credits to cover the rest. The US, China, Russia, India and many other countries are opposed and say the bloc cannot impose taxes on flights outside its own airspace.
EU officials have said they acted unilaterally because of a doubling of aviation carbon emissions in Europe between 1990 and 2006 and the inability of governments to forge a global deal on reducing emissions.
Schaffrath insisted Airbus is working to reduce emissions but argued a Europe-only measure creates trade imbalances.
Airbus made its warnings on the same day its parent company EADS NV reported its annual earnings.