Heathrow increases environmental charges for aircrafts

Heathrow Airport has announced that it is increasing its environmental charges for aircrafts by 7%, as part of a move to incentivise airlines to deploy cleaner and newer aircrafts to lower emissions and noise pollution.

From Monday (1 January) Heathrow Airport will enforce the higher environmental charge. It is hoped the increase will encourage airlines to deploy cleaner vehicles for all Heathrow flights, which in turn will help the airport’s aim of making its planned new runway carbon neutral.

Heathrow’s chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: “Heathrow is determined to reduce the airport’s environmental impacts. Increasing our environmental charges to incentivise airlines to bring their cleanest, quietest aircraft to Heathrow is the best way to cut emissions and shrink the noise footprint around the airport. It is a tangible step that will make a real difference to local communities.”

Traditionally, Heathrow levies its environmental charges in proportion to the “level environmental emissions each aircraft produces”. In recent years, the airport has introduced a tariff attached to nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions.

The increase in environmental charges will have an economic benefit for domestic fliers. In the past, the airport has used the environmental charge as a balancing factor to recover any regulated price cap.

The increase in the charge was announced alongside a passenger discount for domestic flights. Starting this month, any passenger travelling from Heathrow to a UK destination will receive a £15 discount on airport charges. According to Heathrow, this could generate annual savings of around £40m.

It remains to be seen how airliners will respond to the increase. Carriers such as EasyJet and British Airways have previously voiced concerns over increased charges.

Heathrow 2.0

The introduction of the higher environmental charges builds on the airport’s Heathrow 2.0 sustainability strategy. The new ‘Heathrow 2.0’ strategy lists more than 200 targets across a range of social, environmental and economic issues.

Crucially, the significant growth in flights and infrastructure caused by Heathrow’s expansion will be carbon-neutral under this new strategy, with the airport detailing plans to offset an inevitable increase in emissions through the restoration of peatlands in the UK, alongside other carbon-offsetting schemes it will be researching.

The Airport – the first in the world to simultaneously hold four certifications from the Carbon Trust Standard – has already made the switch to 100% renewable energy for its operations.

The expansion is expected to increase the number of people travelling to the airport substantially, and Heathrow 2.0 also outlines commitments to make transport to and from the airport less carbon intensive.

As well as becoming one of the first ten companies globally to commit to the Climate Group’s EV100 initiative, which aims to ensure that all vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes are EVs by 2030, Heathrow Airport has now deployed its 50th EV into its commercial fleet. The vehicles are helping the airport towards a goal to have 50% of passengers travelling by sustainable transport by 2030.

Matt Mace

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