FORTUNE -- The skies are not looking too friendly these days, at least for an airline. Already crunched by high fuel prices and struggling customers, airlines will face tougher rules on carbon emissions for flights landing and taking off in Europe as of January 1, if the European Union has its way.
The U.S. government is fighting to keep American companies from having to comply, but airlines must prepare for the worst-case scenario.
The situation is already bleak. Oil prices have been increasingly volatile in recent years, and airlines are particularly exposed to these fluctuations. Add to that, consumers have started flying less often since the global recession started in late 2008.
To stay above ground, almost every company has piled on extra fees where they can -- surplus legroom, baggage check, in-flight food -- irking passengers who had already cut back on flying. Some companies, such as United Airlines (UAL) and Continental, have combined in an attempt to seek safety with sheer size. On the other end, American Airlines (AMR) declared bankruptcy in November.
And now, the European Union is cracking down on carbon. Next year, airlines will have to pay the EU for the carbon they emit -- past a certain threshold -- during every flight that graces a European runway. No airline is pleased. More
Here's the way it goes: one group of greedy, inventive mothers cooks up a whole bunch of ways to make money off of their intricate knowledge of the system and how it operates. Some of those ways are even legal under the rules, which were cleverly manipulated ahead of time. Others were not legal, but were not punished until it became fashionable to do so. This group does its thing until MOREBing - May 10, 2010 11:10 AM ET
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