Industry update

Portugal introduces new carbon tax

The European Business aviation sector has recently encountered several legislative challenges from EU Member States. This article will analyse the latest Portuguese Carbon Tax and delve into EBAA national advocacy initiatives in the Netherlands and France.

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In recent times, the Business aviation sector has faced multiple national initiatives from EU Member States. These initiatives, driven by a concern for the sector’s environmental impact, propose legislation aimed at restricting short-haul flights or imposing taxes. Recently, Portugal introduced amendments to its Carbon Tax policy, which now extends to include non-commercial business jet flights alongside commercial business jet and airliner flights, effective from July 1, 2023.

Under this new framework, while commercial airliner flights will remain subject to the existing tax rate of 2 EUR per person, the Carbon Tax for business jet flights will be markedly higher. This is due to the inclusion of a “Pollution coefficient” set at a sensibly high level, resulting in a tenfold increase compared to the base tax. Other factors impacting on the final calculation of the tax are the number of seats of the aircraft and the distance flown divided by 2000.

Furthermore, non-European Union-based aircraft operators operating flights from Portugal are mandated to appoint a representative, whereas EU-based operators have the option to do so.

For a detailed analysis of the Portuguese Carbon Tax, we recommend reading the article by FCC Aviation, one of EBAA’s members, which delves deeper into this topic.

Another useful source covering extensively this issue is OPS Group’s article.  The authors underline that under the new regime a Gulfstream 650 with 14 seats operating LPPT/Lisbon – KEWR/New York Newark would be billed for 1,792 Euro ($2,000 USD).

EBAA will monitor developments in Portugal and will actively explore opportunities to discuss with the Portuguese lawmakers regarding these matters.

Past initiatives and next steps

In response to the above and past policy developments in various EU member states, EBAA has directed advocacy efforts to the national level across Europe.

The organisation has engaged in constructive dialogues with policymakers in key countries, emphasising the sector’s economic contributions, connectivity benefits, and pivotal role in driving sustainable innovation which will be instrumental in achieving the net-zero emissions target.

The recent development in Portugal reflects a wider pattern seen throughout Europe, where legislative proposals are being fuelled by the negative perception of the Business aviation industry among the public and the media.

The Greenpeace report released in February 2023 is one of the most prominent recent examples of Business aviation being caught in the crosshairs. The report called on policymakers to impose restrictions on business flights over their disproportionate impact on the environment. These claims were based on the deliberate selection of inaccurate data to exaggerate the recent increase in Business aviation flights within Europe, which was largely driven by the post-pandemic recovery.

EBAA swiftly challenged the report’s flawed conclusions in a press release, using EUROCONTROL data to prove that European business aviation had grown by 7% instead of the reported 64%. EBAA highlighted that the report’s timeframe began during the low point of the COVID-19 crisis, distorting the actual growth trend.

The report caused a widespread reaction from various European media outlets in Europe and caught the attention of several green parties in Europe. In the Netherlands, GroenLinks and the Party for the Animals submitted proposals to the House of Representatives of the Netherlands recommending to restrict Business aviation’s access to airports. Amidst this climate, Schiphol Airport announced plans to cap flights and phase out business jets by 2025 due to noise and emissions concerns.

To counteract this challenging landscape, EBAA’s started an advocacy initiative in the Netherlands focussing on the value of Business aviation for connectivity, its €2.2 billion contribution to GDP, and support for 9,000 high-skilled jobs. It also highlighted that the sector serves as a catalyst for sustainable innovation as it is actively progressing towards the widespread adoption of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), as well as investing in the development of electric, hybrid, and hydrogen-powered aircraft.

Following EBAA’s efforts, the Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management Mark Harbers addressed a letter to the House of Representatives, mentioning that the amount of CO2 from business jets in the Netherlands amounted to only half a percent of all departing international flights in 2022, while the sector. The Minister also stressed the importance of understanding the diverse purposes of Business aviation as the majority of flights serve business, medical emergencies, humanitarian missions, and repatriation. Concerning Schiphol Airport’s announced cap, he rejected the idea of airports unilaterally denying access to Business aviation, emphasising the need for a non-discriminatory slot allocation. This stance was later confirmed by a Dutch court.

In parallel with EBAA’s efforts in the Netherlands, EBAA France, in collaboration with EBAA, engaged with French policymakers regarding a similar proposal from the French Ecologist Party. They highlighted that business aviation only contributes 0.09% of CO₂ emissions in France, employs 100,000 individuals, and adds €32 billion to the GDP. The proposal was ultimately rejected by the French Parliament’s Committee on Sustainable Development, recognising the sector’s importance to the economy and its commitment to reducing environmental impact.

The experiences in the Netherlands and France served as valuable learning opportunities for EBAA, solidifying its commitment to advocating at the national level. Moving forward, EBAA will continue its focus on advocating the interests of the European Business aviation at the national level, always employing a constructive and fact-based approach.

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Please contact Robert Baltus at