Brussels Airport will tax “dirty” aircraft more

Brussels Airport will begin in 2021 to increase airport taxes on planes that emit more carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrous oxide (NOx), CEO Arnaud Feist said in an interview with De Standaard.

The move comes as the airport tries to attract more modern, cleaner aircraft.

At present, airlines pay a tax for every passenger flown into Brussels Airport of around 30 euros. According to spokesperson Anke Fransen, the tax covers the workings of the airport, such as security checks. There is also a variable portion of the tax. At present older aircraft pay about three times more in the variable portion of the tax than newer models. However the criteria used have less to do with pollution and more to do with noise – the perennial problem that plagues an airport so close to a major city.

Under the proposal currently under discussion by the airport authorities and the airlines, aircraft that pollute more could pay ten times more in variable tax than cleaner planes. Emission levels of CO2 and NOx would determine in part the tax to be paid.

According to Antwerp university airline economist Eddy Van de Voorde, quoted in De Standaard, Amsterdam’s airport Schiphol already operates a pollution-based tax, with older dirtier planes paying up to 180% of the basic landing tariff, while newer cleaner planes pay only 45%. “It is important for the range to be wide enough to help price older aircraft out of the market.”

At present civilian air traffic contributes 3% of all of Europe’s carbon emissions, and only 2.1% worldwide. However the rapid growth in air travel means, according to the International Civil Aviation Organisation ICAO, by 2050 – when the EU aims to make the continent climate-neutral – the airline sector could have increased its emissions by no less than seven to ten times.

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