On the eve of the introduction of the emissions trading scheme by the European Union, the heads of some of the country’s major airlines have teamed up to once again ask the government to scrap Air Passenger Duty. A joint statement has been issued by Willie Walsh, the chief executive of IAG, owner of British Airways; Virgin Atlantic’s Steve Ridgway, easyJet’s Carolyn McCall, and Michael O’Leary of Ryanair.

In it the airline bosses say that ETS, which will come into play on 1 January, makes APD redundant. They explain that the tax was introduced by the government as a way of offsetting carbon emissions produced by the airline industry. However, there is no evidence that ministers have ever used the money raised for environmental benefits.

The aim of ETS is to make the airline industry across Europe carbon neutral. The group claims that UK aviation was already paying a sufficient amount to cover its carbon costs in 2008. Since that time APD has at least doubled on many routes.

According to the airline chiefs, by 2020, UK carriers will have to come up with around £336 million to pay for the ETS scheme every year. Currently the government makes £2.5 billion annually from APD, and has said it wants to see this figure go up to £3.6 billion by 2016.

The ETS scheme will place a cap on the amount of carbon airlines are allowed to emit into the atmosphere and will charge carriers for carbon allowances. The tax will apply to every airline flying in and out of Europe.