The European Union has suspended the planned extension of its emissions trading scheme (ETS) to flights to and from non-EU nations, which would have forced international airlines to pay for carbon emissions.

The rules triggered anger from nations such as the US and India, with China threatening to respond by grounding European aircraft if its airliners were forced to pay.

"China threatened to ground European aircraft if its airliners were forced to pay."

India banned its airlines from complying in April, and the US Senate followed suit in September by passing a measure that effectively shielded the nation’s airlines from participating in the programme.

Climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard confirmed that due to progress being made on a global emissions deal brokered by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the extension of the scheme had been postponed by one year. However, Hedegaard did add that the European tax would be introduced next year if no further progress had been made.

The postponement follows an ICAO general meeting last week, during which the organisation agreed to move towards a market-based mechanism for emissions trading.

Criticism has stemmed from the cost incurred by airlines as a result of the scheme coming at a time of doubt within the industry. Estimates produced by Airlines for America claimed that US airlines would pay at least $3.1bn through 2020 as a result of the scheme, while other airlines have suggested a worldwide cost of approximately €17.5bn ($22.3bn) in the same time period.

The EU has defended its stance, arguing that the scheme would only add between €4 and €24 to the price of each long-haul flight.