Emissions Trading Scheme - Aviation


Free Allocation to Aircraft operators in the years 2021-2023:

Phase 4 of the EU ETS commenced on 1 January 2021. The European Commission adopted the Decision on the free allocation to aircraft operators for the years 2021-2023 on 16 December 2020 (Commission reference: C(2020)9188/F1). The Annex to the Decision listing the quantities which may be issued to qualifying aircraft operators in any of the years 2021-2023 can be found here.

We expect to issue the 2021 free allocation by 28 February 2021 to qualifying Aircraft Operators that in 2020 performed an Annex I aviation activity as defined under Directive 2003/87/EC (as amended by Directive 2008/101/EC and by Regulation (EU) 2017/2392) and met the definition of an aircraft operator in the Directive. 

N.B. These allowances cannot be used for compliance against 2020 emissions. 

All allocations to aircraft operators under Phase III (2013-2020) are published on the EUTL please follow this link.

2018 Allocation

The 2018 free allowances were issued to the 10 qualifying Aircraft Operators that in 2017 performed an Annex I aviation activity as defined under Directive 2003/87/EC (as amended by Directive 2008/101/EC and by Regulation (EU) 2017/2392) and met the definition of an aircraft operator in the Directive. Details on the 2018 allowance allocation can be found here.


The Aviation Directive (Directive 2008/101/EC of 19 November 2008 amending Directive 2003/87/EC so as to include aviation activities in the scheme for greenhouse gas emission allowance trading within the Community) came into force on 2 February 2009. The Irish EPA has been appointed the Competent Authority (Regulator) for the implementation of the Directive in Ireland.

The Aviation Directive requires all (EU and non-EU) operators of fixed or rotary-wing aircraft over 5,700 kg (12,566 pounds) who fly to, from or within EU countries to participate in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme starting in 2012 (however other compliance requirements, explained in greater detail below, commence in 2009). There is an exemption for commercial aircraft operations which have fewer than 243 flights per period for three consecutive four-month periods or with total annual emissions from all eligible flights lower than 10,000 tonnes (metric tons) per year.
Download a copy of Directive 2008/101/EC

Legislation transposing the Aviation Directive into Irish Law

The Aviation Directive was transposed into National Legislation in two stages commencing with preliminary aspects under the European Communities (Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading) (Aviation) Regulations 2009 (S.I. No. 274 of 2009) in July 2009. The 2009 regulations were revoked and replaced by the European Communities (Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading) (Aviation) Regulations 2010 (S.I. No. 261 of 2010) in June 2010 Download a copy of S.I. 261 of 2010

October 2011 Publication of EU ETS Allocation of free allowances to aircraft operators:

On 26 September 2011 the European Commission published the benchmark figures for 2012 and 2013 to 2020 pursuant to Article 3e(1) of the Emissions Trading Directive 2003/87/EC as amended to include aircraft operators. Using the published benchmarks the Environmental Protection Agency has determined the number of free allowances for operators who applied for a free allocation by reporting their verified 2010 tonne-kilometre data in accordance with their EPA approved tonne-kilometre data monitoring plan.

In order to calculate the benchmarks for each period the Commission first calculated total annual amount of historical emissions across the EU Member states and Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein (the EEA wide total) and adjusted this number in accordance with Article 3e to give the total free allocation to incumbents for the 2012 and the 2013 to 2020 trading periods. This number was then divided by the sum of the tonne-kilometre activity data included in applications by aircraft operators submitted to the Commission by Member States to give the relevant benchmark. Full details are available on the Commission’s website.

Allocation of aviation allowances in an EEA-wide Emissions Trading System - Policies - Climate Action - European Commission

March 2017 Revised allocation from Directive 2003/87/EC as amended by Regulation (EU) No 421/2014 and Regulation (EU) 2017/2392

The European Commission enacted legislation in April 2014 changing the scope of EUETS with regards to international aviation emissions (Regulation (EU) No 421/2014 amending Directive 2003/87/EC).  A further regulation published in December 2017 (Regulation (EU) 2017/2392 prolongs this reduced scope until the end of 2023. As a result of the change in scope of Aviation EU ETS, the Environmental Protection Agency is obligated to recalculate the allocation of free allowances due to eligible aircraft operators. This recalculation has been done in accordance with the Commission guidance.

This table include all aircraft operators who were previously due free allowances and indicate their new free allowance allocation under the reduced scope.

Download free aviation allowances allocation tables by following this link.

Aircraft Operators based on best available 2013 traffic data that are now exempt under the new non-commercial de minimis rule (less than 1,000 tCO2 per annum calculated on the basis of full scope) appear in these tables. Owing to their 'excluded' status these operators are not due free allowances and as such their Aircraft Operator Holding Account (AOHA) will be marked as 'excluded' in the registry – meaning that no transactions can be carried out and no free allowances will be deposited, unless the threshold is exceeded.

If you believe you are no longer due any allowances as a result of the changes or you wish to seek further clarification as to your new free allowance allocation please contact the Environmental Protection Agency on avets@epa.ie.

Please note that allocations to aircraft operators may be adjusted should an act pursuant to Article 25a of Directive 2003/87/EC be adopted.

Guidance for aircraft operators

View here the info graphic has been developed by Environmental Protection Agency to give an overview of the implementation of the Directive.  It should be a handy reference point of all aircraft operators on the necessary steps for compliance. 


Which Member State (MS) is responsible for each operator?

Under the Directive the European commission must publish a list indicating to the operators which of the EU member states (MS) will be responsible for administering an individual operator's compliance with the EU ETS. No operator should have to deal with more than a single MS competent authority (regulator) at one time.

The administering MS is based on either:
(i) the MS who issued the Air Carrier Operating Licence under Council Regulation (EEC) No. 2407/92 if the operator holds a valid EU operating licence


(ii) in all other cases, the MS with the greatest estimated attributed aviation emissions from flights in the base year (2006, or the first year of operation if they started operation after 1 January 2006) according to data gathered from Eurocontrol

The European Commission released a preliminary list (see DG Environment - Climate Change - Aviation) of aircraft operators and the administering Member States to which they would report based on European flight activity in 2006-2008. The fact that an operator is not on the EC list does not mean that they are necessarily exempt from the Directive. Operators should consider carefully Annex 1 of the Directive in order to understand if their aviation activity is covered. The Commission has also published a document on the detailed interpretation of Annex 1 - (see DG Environment - Climate Change - Aviation)

The EU Commission recently published a revised list of aircraft operators.

Download revised list of aircraft operators assigned to Ireland

See our page regarding Emissions Monitoring & Reporting here