But environmentalists claimed the EU plan was too weak, citing a report from the British think tank, the Institute for Public Policy Research, that said airlines could make up to 2.7 billion pounds (euro4 billion; US$5.26 billion) in profit because they will get emissions allowances for free and pass on the costs in higher ticket prices.
One group, Transport and Environment, said the plan would barely reduce overall emissions and more measures were needed such as a tax on fuel and sales tax on tickets.
"This looks like business as usual and the likelihood of massive windfall profits for the industry," said T&E director Jos Dings.
Caroline Lucas, a Green Party member of the European Parliament, said the required adoption by the European Parliament was unlikely while the plan runs "completely counter to their clearly stated view that all flights into and out of the EU should be included, and that non-carbon dioxide emissions should be taken into account."
The EU says it will, by the end of 2008, suggest including nitrogen dioxide released by airlines to the trading plan.
EU governments and the Parliament must back the proposal - and can make changes - before it enters into force.
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Compatible with international rules, the EU Environment Commissioner believes U.S. airlines can not successfully challenge it.
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