European airlines may risk an embargo from India's airspace, should Brussels impose sanctions on Indian carriers over carbon emissions.
Brussels is facing the heat from several nations, including China and Russia, over an EU carbon emissions trading scheme that called for charging airlines over pollution starting this year.
Civil aviation minister Ajit Singh hinted the possibility of a ban on EU carriers in an interview. He reasoned that neither India nor the EU will benefit from the sanctions, and that sanctions will prove futile at a time when the economy is weakening.
"Travelling is always a two-way traffic ... if they can impose sanctions so can other countries," Singh told the Financial Times. "A trade war is not in anyone's interest and I think reason should prevail ultimately," he added.
"(The EU) is a sovereign union, they can make laws for themselves but they cannot make laws for the whole world," he told the paper, adding, "If you allow this, next they will impose a carbon tax on shipping or cement".
Top officials from the EU airline industry have voiced disapproval towards the European commission for enforcement of the scheme. "It's crazy to risk a trade war because of the position the EU has adopted," Willie Walsh, chief executive of International Airlines Group, told the Wall Street Journal.
Bernard Gustin, chairman of Brussels Airlines, also threw in bits of criticism on the latest move of the EU. "Europe wanted to lead the way without listening," he told Wall Street Journal.
A week earlier, the EU nearly enforced a ban on ten Indian and Chinese airlines, following failure to provide emissions data from 2011, which the EU said had violated Brussels' carbon emissions scheme.
Meanwhile, EU officials are working towards finding a solution on the trading scheme.
The International Civil Aviation Organisation, (ICAO) an agency of the United Nations, may bring about a solution in a year's time, said a spokesperson of the EU climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard. EU may also consider reforms to the current scheme if the ICAO furnishes an alternative, the Financial Times reported.
"We've nothing against the principle of the emissions trading scheme which is an incentive to contain emissions," Fabrice Bregier, Airbus second in command told WSJ.
Bregier added that the number of airline passengers is said to have jumped 4% to 5% on a yearly basis but the industry strives to maintain global airline emissions on a stable level.