From next spring, Belgians could be breathing easier and those living under noisy flight paths could find they have a quieter life. Belgium is targeting private jets, short-haul flights and older, more polluting craft with new taxes at Brussels Airport, reports Reuters.
Aircraft using the airport must pay fees to Belgian air traffic body Skeyes. Until now though, smaller aircraft, including most private jets, have not been liable to pay the duties that are based on noise pollution levels during take-off and landing.
The changes announced in statement issued by Belgian Federal Cabinet, introduce a new system of taxes on air traffic effective from April 1, 2023.
The noise pollution experienced by residents near Brussels National Airport, whether they live in Flanders, Brussels or Wallonia, cannot remain as it is.Georges Gilkinet, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister in charge of Transport
Under the new policy, flights that take off and land at night will become more expensive to operate. Noise pollution will not however be the only trigger for taxation. Additional criteria will include air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and destination. Flights under 500km (310 miles) will face increased levies.
Some flight operators could find themselves paying 40% when the new regime comes into play. Others though could actually find themselves paying less. Incentives will be offered in the form of lower charges for fuel-efficient, quieter aircraft.
Gilkinet insisted that Brussels Airport’s two main players TUI and Brussels Airlines would benefit from the new rules because “they already make a lot of efforts for the environment.” For carriers like them, charges could be up to 25% cheaper. Contacted by VRT news, both airlines said they were still evaluating the consequences of the measures.
Belgium’s moves come as Europe attempts to face up to its air traffic and climate safeguarding responsibilities. France has also recently legislated to eliminate certain short-haul routes where train connections of less than two and a half hours are in place. The land of liberté, égalité and fraternité cited intolerable energy inequity between those making frequent pleasure trips by plane to the riviera and those struggling with the cost of living and this winter’s energy crisis.
In the wake of Covid-19, private jet usage dramatically increased, amounting to over 3000 flights a year at Brussels Airport. Estimates by Transport & Environment place the blame for 50% of overall emissions, on just 1% of journeys.