Initially aimed at discouraging short-distance air travel of less than 500km for environmental reasons, Belgium is now looking to introduce a new aviation departure tax on all commercial passenger flights departing a Belgian airport effective from April 1, 2022.

According to reports by Belgian dailies La Libre Belgique and La Derniere Heure, EUR10 euros (about USD11) is to be taxed on flights to destinations under 500km (as the crow flies) from a Belgian airport. A tax of EUR2 (USD2.20) will be levied if the final destination from Belgium is located further than 500km but in the European Economic Area (EEA), while EUR4 (USD4.50) will be imposed if the final destination is outside of the EEA.

The new aviation departure tax was first announced after the government’s October 12, 2021 budget meeting and forms part of the government’s “tax shift” aimed at reducing its budgetary deficit and increasing its income by EUR300 million (USD340 million) in 2022. Of this, the new aviation departure tax is supposed to contribute EUR30 million (USD34 million) in 2022 and EUR40 million (USD45 million) in 2023 and 2024.

According to government transport statistics seen by ch-aviation, a total of 12,619,612 passengers departed from Belgium's five major airports - Antwerp, Brussels National, Brussels Charleroi, Liège, Ostend - in 2021, in addition to 22,332 passengers from Kortrijk in 2020 (2021 statistics not available).

While all passenger flights from Belgian airports would be affected, those within the EEA would be to Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden.

Belgium's Minister of Mobility Georges Gilkinet has defended the measure, pointing out that similar taxes already exist in the Netherlands and France.