On March 24, the Belgian government agreed on the implementation of the Belgian Embarkation Tax. Air Belgium, Brussels Airlines, and TUI fly Belgium expressed their disappointment with the decision and denounced the timing of the newly implemented tax.
The Belgian government is introducing a boarding tax for all departing passenger flights that will come into force on 1 April. With the introduction of the new Belgian Embarkation Tax, passengers will see the price of airline tickets increase by €10 if the final destination is less than 500 km away from the airport of departure. Passengers who fly to a destination more than 500 km away will have to pay an extra €2, and €4 for flights outside Europe. The new tax also applies to passengers traveling by private plane or helicopter.
The airlines have to pay the tax; however, it is very likely that they will charge an extra price to their passengers.
The Belgian airlines expressed serious concerns on the implementation modalities of the tax. Among other requests, they asked the government for a starting date of the new tax based on the date of reservation, rather than the date of the flight. In fact, taxes cannot be charged retroactively to customers who have already booked their flights before 1 April.
According to the Belgian Air Transport Association (BATA), the government’s decision is “legally questionable” and it is not in line with the recommendations issued by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
In addition, this decision is legally questionable, as it does not follow the recommendations of ICAO, that as from the moment the official texts have been finalized and validated by the different instances (yesterday by the Parliament), an implementation timeline of at least 4 months is necessary to update the different booking systems and inform the passengers.Belgian Air Transport Association
BATA also pointed out that this new tax represents an additional financial burden for the Belgian aviation sector, which is trying to recover from the pandemic. Moreover, the tax has no positive effects on the environment.