The U.S. costs to comply with the EU program would fall mostly on six companies that account for 99.7 percent of fuel used for scheduled service over the Atlantic Ocean. Photo: Ken James/Bloomberg

U.S. airlines and freight companies will need allowances to cover their emissions on flights to and from Europe under a European Union emission trading system that goes into effect for aviation on Jan. 1, 2012.

The Air Transport Association, a group that represents U.S. airlines and freight companies, has estimated that the system will cost U.S. companies $3.1 billion from 2012 through 2020.

A Bloomberg Government Study, “EU Aviation Emission: Impact on U.S. Airlines and Freight Carriers,” has found that the cost will be lower if carbon allowance prices continue to trade in their historic range. The price would have to be about 50 percent higher than the average since trading began in 2005 to reach the $3.1 billion estimate.

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