Belgium to raise fees on old, noisy, short-haul and private planes
The charges that airlines pay to air traffic controller Skeyes in Belgium will be adjusted to discourage flying old and loud aircraft for short distances. This was decided by the Belgian Council of Ministers on Friday, 9 December. From April 2023, business jets will also have to pay terminal fees at Brussels airport in Zaventem. The reform is part of a larger airport plan by the Minister of Mobility, Georges Gilkinet (Green Party Ecolo), which displeased the Belgian national airlines' management.
Today, any aircraft that lands or takes off from Brussels Airport must pay a tax according to the volume of noise generated during take-off and landing. So far, small aircraft such as private jets were exempt, but this changes.
Besides noise, Gilkinet's proposal also tackles CO2 emissions, air pollution and the distance of the destination. Airlines that fly in the morning, evening or at night and for distances under 500 kilometres will have to pay up to 40 per cent more, especially if flying with an outdated and more polluting and noisy fleet. For more modern aircraft flying over longer distances during the day, the charge will be reduced by up to 25 per cent.
Therefore, the new tax is cheaper or more expensive depending on the aircraft's performance, the flight distance and the time of day. The new system should come into effect on 1 April next year, the start of the airlines summer season.
Last week, the Belgian government released more than 2.7 million euros to Skeyes to test more ecological and quieter flight procedures.
"The noise pollution suffered by the inhabitants around Brussels Airport, whether they are in Flanders, Brussels or Wallonia, cannot continue. The status quo is no longer an option", declared Gilkinet, highlighting that the measure is favourable for Brussels Airlines and TUI since they already have clean and quiet planes.
With more than 3,000 flights per year, private jets represent 12% of all air traffic in Belgium. According to the sector organization European Business Aviation Association (EBAA), they have been growing in popularity since the Covid crisis.
Private jet operators at Brussels Airport have reacted negatively. "Of course, this measure does not make us happy. But it is part of an ongoing development for a long time," said Luxaviation's CEO, Ward Bonduel.
Brussels Airlines' CEO, Peter Gerber, told the Belgian newspaper l'Echo that "the very profitable flights" to Africa risk disappearing, since they are very dependent at Brussels Airport on morning flights from all over Europe. "If these plans materialize, Brussels Airport will become a small provincial airport", Gerber said.
"I work in dialogue. My door is always open," already replied Gilkinet to Gerber's remarks.
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