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New airport fees 'result in quieter, less polluting aircraft'

22:00 26/05/2024

Aeroplanes landing or taking off at Brussels National Airport i Zaventem are not as noisy or polluting as before thanks to a new fee scale introduced a year ago, according to Skeyes, the airline controller commissioned by Belgian mobility minister Georges Gilkinet to carry out an impact study between April and December 2023.

The new fees meant that it was up to 35% more expensive for planes that are more polluting, noisy or take off at night.

Reacting to the study’s findings, vice prime minister Gilkinet (Ecolo) was pleased at the reduction in night flights, and that planes using Brussels Airport were more modern, less polluting and quieter.

In short, despite the growth in air traffic after the pandemic, the percentage of aircraft not respecting noise limits has gone down by 15% in a year. There has also been a 7% decrease in night flights.

However, the minister said more needed to be done to reduce planes’ environmental impact. He called notably for a ban on short-hop flights in Belgium and up to 25km beyond its frontiers, and to further reduce the current aeroplane maximum noise limit.

Brussels Airport ombudsman Philippe Touwaide gave a cautious welcome to the figures, particularly that the new fee system had encouraged airline companies to renew their fleet and to use newer, more eco-friendly aircraft.

But he said that the higher prices linked to more carbon emitting or louder craft would not deter noise levels of freight companies and cargo planes: “They will pay the fees and then direct them towards their customers and so will not change their fleet.”

Touwaide added that 63% of cargo planes landing at night at Brussels National airport were built before the year 2000. This meant, Touwaide said, that instead of fees and levies, it would be better to just levy a blanket ban on the most polluting aeroplanes.

Written by Liz Newmark