The Air Transport Association, the lead trade group for U.S. airlines, as well as three carriers, American Airlines, a unit of AMR Corp, United Airlines, a unit of UAL Corp, and Continental Airlines Inc, filed suit this week in London.
The British government is the first to start implementing early stages of the EU scheme, which goes into effect in 2012. It would impose caps on carbon emissions and require carriers that exceed limits to purchase credits.
U.S. airlines want the European Court of Justice to review the matter, saying the plan is overly broad, logistically complex, and too expensive at a time when the industry is losing billions annually.
If the regulation stands, U.S. airlines contend that ticket prices for flights into and out of EU nations would jump sharply to account for costs associated with the emissions trading formula.
U.S. and other non-European airlines favor establishment of one global standard through the United Nations for reducing emissions rather than a patchwork of regional policies.
(Reporting by John Crawley; editing by Jim Marshall)