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Belgium Will Tax Private Jets to Reduce Noise and Air Pollution

France is expected to introduce similar taxes on business jets, with other EU countries likely to follow.

Belgium has announced a new tax on private jets. Courtesy Getty Images

Belgium has announced it will levy new taxes on private jets as well as older, noisier commercial aircraft as part of a scheme to reduce noise and air pollution. The new taxes will start on 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, said in the statement announcing the new taxes.

Aircraft using Brussels airport currently pay a tax based on the noise levels the aircraft generates during takeoff and landing. The new tax will now factor in carbon emissions as well as length of flight. Any flight shorter than 500 km (310 miles) will see increased duties.  

Belgium has announced a new tax on private jets.
The new tax will be based on the aircraft’s age and whether it will be traveling at night or during the day. Courtesy Getty Images

Until now, private jets have been exempt from the tax. Gilkinet noted in the statement that “pollution per passenger is much higher” than commercial flights. The fees for private jets would be based on the aircraft’s age as well as time of the flight. The government hopes to discourage night flights.

The European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) said that business aviation accounts for 12 percent of total aviation activities in that country.

Belgium’s decision to tax business jets follows statements by Christophe Bechu, France’s environment minister, in October that his government was in favor of doing the same next year. Under the proposal, France would revise its tax structure on aircraft fuel so that it aligns with car fuels. Some leftist members of the ruling coalition have called for an outright ban on private jets, but that would be highly unlikely.

Calling for a ban on private jets, protestors across Europe shut down private airports with sit-ins.

Private jets have become a hot-button political issue in France. Scientists have protested in front of business-jet maker Dassault’s headquarters in Paris, while others participated in “sit-ins” in multiple countries that effectively shut down private airports. The protestors are calling for private jets to be banned.

EBAA said an outright ban would prevent the industry from developing sustainable strategies going forward. The association said that business aviation is responsible for employing almost 400,000 people and contributes almost 90 billion euros ($95.5 billion) to Europe’s GDP annually.

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