AEF comment on CAA review of environmental landing charges at airports
The CAA published a review in October of environmental landing charges at the 6 largest UK airports. The CAA review considered whether differential landing charges, based on noise and air pollution by NOx emissions, could be used to encourage the take up of cleaner and quieter aircraft. The main finding of the review is that environmental landing charges have some incentive effects but are unlikely to be the main financial driver for using quieter and less polluting aircraft. Currently, charging varies across the 6 airports, with some offering greater financial incentives for better performing aircraft which limits the effectiveness of environmental charging. The Aviation Environment Federation believes future schemes should assess the cost of local air quality impacts and then charge airlines for their contribution (the differential would mean that the polluter pays more in addition to the existing landing charges). The environmental charges collected should not be retained by the airport but could be used to fund effective mitigation and avoidance measures.
A review of environmental landing charges at airports, report by CAA
Nov 29 2013 (AEF – Aviation Environment Federation)
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) published a review in October of environmental landing chargesat the three designated airports for noise management (Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted) and three of the busiest airports in the UK (Manchester, East Midlands and Birmingham).
The study examined whether differential landing charges for noise and air pollution – where noisier and more polluting aircraft are charged more than quieter, cleaner aircraft to land at a specific airport – could be used to encourage the take up of cleaner and quieter aircraft. [CAA use the term “clean” to refer to NOx pollution, rather than the unhelpful general use of the term to indicate lower carbon emissions].
The main finding of the review is that environmental landing charges have some incentive effects but are unlikely to be the main financial driver for using quieter and less polluting aircraft. Currently, charging varies across the six airports with some offering greater financial incentives for better performing aircraft which limits the effectiveness of environmental charging.
Of concern is that certain airports (Gatwick for example) applied reduced landing charges for early morning and night flights which are classified as off-peak periods. This creates an incentive for airlines to fly at times when residents are more sensitive to aircraft noise, which could exacerbate the noise problem.
In order to improve the effectiveness of charging schemes, the report calls for charges to be better linked to environmental impacts, along with greater differentials between efficient and noisy or polluting aircraft, and an earlier introduction of higher charges as new standards of aircraft emerge.
Under current CAA regulations, increases in environmental landing charges at the regulated Heathrow, Stansted or Gatwick would have to be counter-balanced by decreases in other aircraft charges. Yet environmental charges only account for 3% of landing charges at Heathrow meaning there is scope for raising environmental charges.
CAA make several recommendations on noise, including that charging categories should cover all aircraft using the airport and that there should be different charges for operations occurring at night. The review also recommends that NOx landing charges should be distinct to those for noise.
Our view is that environmental landing charges should include a differential to take account of the relative contribution of each aircraft, and the ability to raise revenue proportional to the impact (the external cost of the impact).
In this case, AEF welcomes the introduction of differential environmental charges but the use of an existing charge – in this case the landing fee – makes the overall scheme “revenue neutral”. This is a missed opportunity and is, in effect, subsidising aircraft that are less polluting than the average by discounting the landing fee.
Future schemes at UK airports should assess the cost of local air quality impacts and then charge airlines for their contribution (the differential would mean that the polluter pays more in addition to the existing landing charges). The environmental charges collected should not be retained by the airport but could be used to fund effective mitigation and avoidance measures.
The report, titled CAP 1119: Environmental charging – Review of impact of noise and NOx landing charges was released on the 15thOctober 2013 and is available by following the link below:
CAA calls on airports to use landing charges to encourage cleaner, quieter flights
Date: 15 October 2013
UK airports should use their landing charges to offer better incentives for airlines to operate cleaner and quieter flights, says a new report released by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) today.
The report follows the Department for Transport’s (DfT) Aviation Policy Framework published in March this year, which suggested airports consider using differential landing charges to incentivise quieter aircraft. The CAA has since reviewed the noise and emission elements of landing charges at six of the UK’s busiest airports and has published in its report a set of good practice principles for airports to encourage airlines to operate more environmentally friendly flights.
During the review, the CAA found approaches to the environmental elements of landing charges varied greatly from one airport to another – with some airports offering greater financial incentives for airlines to use cleaner and quieter aircraft than others.
The report also found that whilst some airports used differential landing charges to encourage airlines to operate in the day, others applied reduced landing charges for early morning and night flights – most likely due to differences in demand. This approach therefore gives airlines a financial incentive to fly at times when residents are more sensitive to aircraft noise and could actually increase airlines’ environmental impact on local residents.
With approaches to differential landing charges varying across the six airports reviewed, the CAA is calling for charges to be more consistently linked to impact to maximise the incentives for more environmentally friendly operations.
Dan Edwards, Head of Economic Policy and International Aviation at the CAA, said:
“We are very clear that the aviation industry needs to do more to tackle its environmental impacts, particularly if the sector wishes to grow. This means adopting innovative approaches and using landing charges to encourage cleaner, quieter flights is one way we believe the industry can make a difference.
“Adopting the principles we’ve published in our review will lead to a more consistent approach to noise and emissions landing charges across the UK, with better incentives for airlines and ultimately reducing aviation’s environmental impact on residents.”
The review acknowledges that options to increase incentives for airlines will be restricted to increasing differentials in landing charges, rather than the overall landing charges airlines pay. In addition, airports will need to consider potential trade-offs with economic and consumer choice factors when considering their approach to landing charges.
The CAA’s review looked at six UK airports in total. This included Gatwick, Heathrow and Stansted, which are all designated for noise management restrictions by the Secretary of State for Transport. The remaining airports included in the review are Birmingham, East Midlands and Manchester.
The full review is available here.