Landing Fees: Sometimes Punishment, Sometimes Reward

Landing fees – the amount charged by an airport to a plane’s owner for the privilege of that plane landing on their runway. Not every airport charges landing fees, particularly small, municipal airports. And even at larger airports, airplanes owned by aviation schools and/or their student pilots are often exempt from the fee.

Recently, Vancouver International Airport reduced their international landing fees, making them the lowest among Canada’s major airports. Now they’ll be the same charge as YVR’s domestic landing fees. The savings for international cargo operators flying Boeing 747 aircraft will see a 32% reduction of landing fees in 2007 as compared to last year. That’s quite a savings. Other international operators of planes such as the Airbus A320, Boeing 747 and Boeing 777 will save from 6-10%.

That’s a stark contrast to what’s happening right now in India at three of their largest airports: Bangalore, Delhi, and Mumbai. To reduce air traffic during “rush hour,” landing fees will double at these locations. The airplane operators are charged the base fee according to the aircraft’s weight. If a plane doesn’t leave within two hours of landing, they’re charged another fee on top of that. Things could add up in a hurry, and for carriers already operating on a thin profit margin, it could be a lethal issue.

In Germany, the government is using landing fees in an effort to reduce air pollution. Fees will be raised for those airplanes with higher emissions, and reduce them for airplanes with lower than average emissions. The new variable landing fee system is based on those already used in Sweden, Switzerland, and some other countries. The program will go into affect at the end of 2007 as a three-year voluntary test phase. Germany is already a leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to slow the effects of climate change.