Delhi airport proposes “noise” tax on old aircraft

By Neelam Mathew, IANS,

Frankfurt : The consortium running the Indian capital\’s airport proposes a new tax on older aircraft by 2012, especially on those landing late evenings and early mornings, to curb noise pollution, officials said.

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“Our plan envisages noise-monitoring and encouraging the use of new generation, low-noise aircraft by tying landing charges to actual noise emission levels,” Aniruddha Chatterjee, spokesperson for Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL), told IANS.

He indicated that the environmental cue would be taken from their joint venture partner, Fraport, which is implementing a similar programme at Frankfurt airport.

“We are committed to active noise abatement measures by taxing carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide components. This will encourage new generation aircraft to fly to Frankfurt airport,” said Stefan Schulte, chief executive of Fraport.

“Emissions are expected to reduce by 30 percent by 2020,” Schulte, whose company manages the airport here and also holds a 10-percent stake in the airport venture in the Indian capital, told IANS.

The power, realty and infrastructure major GMR has a 54 percent stake in DIAL, while Airports Authority of India holds a 26-percent share. The remaining 10 percent is held by Eraman Malaysia. The Indira Gandhi International Airport handles some 650 aircraft movements daily.

Officials explained that India currently has no noise emission standards at its airports and all rules and regulations needed clearance from a variety of authorities.

These include the Airport Economic Regulatory Authority, the aviation ministry, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, the Airports Authority of India and the environment ministry.

India’s aviation industry has comparatively higher number of fuel-efficient aircraft, but many of the flying machines from abroad are of vintage descent. Newer aircraft make less noise because they are equipped with quieter engines.

“Our policy of noise-related airport charges ensures that those airlines that operate quieter equipment enjoy substantial financial benefits,” said Ansgar Sickert, the managing director for Fraport India.

He said Fraport runs an efficient environmental audit system, which is a tool for companies to evaluate, report and improve their environmental performance. The scheme has been available for participation by companies since 1995.

The airport here has eight defined noise categories, and landing charges go up progressively. The charges for Category Four are as much as 22 times higher than that for Category One, officials said. There is also an additional night charge.

Since 2006, Fraport also implemented a passive noise abatement program. “We just insulated the roofs of homes around the airport. But this won’t be possible in Delhi where walls are thinner and windows have no insulation,” said Sickert.

At London’s Heathrow airport, too, comprehensive noise management measures are in place, wherein night flights are subject to restrictions between 11 pm and 7 am.

In May this year, the working group of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation recommended that the use of new Runway 29 in Delhi for landings be restricted at night to benefit residents of localities in the approach path.

The airport consortium has also suggested fewer hours of landing for old craft but a large number of such aircraft are with the Indian Air Force, which shares the airport space with the civilian enclave.

Noise from aircraft while taking-off and landing is the most significant source of noise pollution at airports, in addition to the high decibel levels at the taxiways and aprons.