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Belgium considering banning short-hop flights in potential European first

19:00 20/12/2023

Belgian mobility minister Georges Gilkinet (Ecolo) is proposing that the federal government bans short-haul flights taking off and landing in Belgium, reports RTBF.

The move, discussed in Parliament in December, concerns all commercial flights, including private jets, that operate withing Belgian airspace.

After consultation with the regions, the project was extended to airports in neighbouring countries. Flanders suggested the ban should be widened to up to 25kms beyond Belgium’s borders, which would affect flights to or from Eindhoven, Maastricht, Luxembourg and Lille.

While recognising that the draft law would have little impact on CO2 emissions, Gilkinet wants to end the “ecological absurdity” of short-hop flights.

European first

Exceptions to the proposed law include repositioning flights. These concern commercial aircraft which land at one airport but depart the next day from another airport. Other special cases would be rescue, surveillance, maintenance and research flights, as well as diversions due to exceptional weather conditions.

Such a law would be a European first, according to the minister. "Continuing to tolerate aircraft short-hop flights is absolute nonsense. These flights, which depart and arrive on Belgian territory, cover very short distances, very often less than 100kms. The result is a carbon footprint per kilometre which is proportionally the highest," he underlined.

Private jets highest polluters

Despite environmental concerns, short-haul regional flights remain prevalent.  In 2022, among 1,800 such flights in Belgium, the Liège-Brussels route was the busiest, reported in June.

Private jets represented 71% of internal Belgian flights in 2022, compared to 55% in 2019.

While many short flights serve as a refuelling stopover, research shows that they emit more CO2 per kilometre due to the high energy required for take-off.

Private jets are particularly polluting, emitting five to 14 times more CO2 per passenger than commercial flights and 50 times more than trains, said

Photo: ©Liège Airport

Written by The Bulletin