Twenty-two European associations, including UFC-Que Choisir and the CLCV for France, will file a complaint Thursday with the European Commission against 17 airlines which they accuse of “greenwashing” and “misleading commercial practices”.

These associations from 18 countries, members of the European Consumers’ Bureau (BEUC), accuse the companies concerned – Air Baltic, Air Dolomiti, Air France, Austrian, Brussels Airlines, Eurowings, Finnair, KLM, Lufthansa, Norwegian, Ryanair, SAS , SWISS, TAP, Volotea, Vueling, Wizz Air – to “imply that air transport can be sustainable, eco-responsible and green”, explain the CLCV and the UFC-Que Choisir in a joint press release. “None of the strategies deployed by the aviation sector is currently able to limit greenhouse gas emissions”, they say, considering “essential to put an end to these allegations, because if air traffic continues its expansion, emissions will continue to increase in the years to come.

In their sights, two commercial practices which they consider misleading: encouraging travelers to pay “a significant supplement” to offset the CO2 emissions of a flight – a mechanism with “highly criticized climate benefits, while the damage caused by CO2 emissions from air travel are indisputable’ – or to contribute to the development of sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs), which are ‘not ready for market’ and ‘will at best only represent a minor share in the tanks of airplanes”. Air France-KLM thus offers “consumers to take out expensive options, supposedly to cover their own carbon impact, on future flights with an unknown horizon”, regret the associations, indicating that the option relating to SAF amounts to “the tidy sum of 138 euros” for a Paris-Copenhagen flight.

“It is unacceptable that airlines can boast of working for the climate,” says Marie-Amandine Stévenin, president of UFC-Que Choisir. “These allegations must stop for the protection of consumers”, affirms his counterpart at the CLCV Jean Yves Mano, calling on the public authorities to “act firmly”.

The 22 European associations have therefore seized their national consumer protection authorities, but also file a complaint for misleading commercial practices with the European Commission via the BEUC, via the external alert mechanism. They hope for a joint decision to prohibit “any claim aimed at making consumers believe that flying is an environmentally friendly practice”, but also “that a European-wide investigation be launched into the practices of these companies and that these reimburse consumers who have subscribed to the additional options in question.