We look at some of the issues airports face when using incorrect data to bill airlines on (and therefore the issues airlines face when receiving unexpectedly high invoices for airport charges).

At one end of the spectrum, airport charges can be relatively simple – landing fees can be a basic MASS * VALUE formula. When noise values and more complex variables start to become involved however, they can become very complex and involved.

Regardless of how complex the charges are, the key underlying component to accurate billing is having the correct aircraft information at the aircraft registration level. Why? Because within an aircraft type, the maximum take-off weight (MTOW), engines and thus noise values, can vary; even small variations in these values can lead to different charges applying, resulting in potential €000s of additional costs per landing. Let’s look at some examples at major airports in Europe.

Impact of different MTOWs

Weight is a key component of many airport charges so it is easy to see if an airport doesn’t have access to up-to-date aircraft data by registration how potential billing discrepancies can occur. The default position might be to use a standard MTOW value if no registration-specific data is available – that value might be at the higher end of all available aircraft weights for a standard equipment type.

According to Airbus, there are nine different possible MTOWs for an A320ceo, ranging from 66 tonnes to 78 tonnes. As can be seen in the chart below for landing fees at Paris Charles De Gaulle (CDG/LFPG), invoices based on the highest MTOW could result in €51 higher charges per landing compared to the lowest MTOW.

A320 - CDG Landing Fees A320 - CDG Landing fees

Landing fees involving Noise variables

In contrast to Paris Charles De Gaulle, the landing fee at London Heathrow (LHR/EGLL) is determined by the noise value of aircraft. Using the A320ceo as an example again and the possible engine combinations which are fitted to this aircraft type, there are four different sets of noise values which, at LHR, generate landing fees of between £4.3k and £1.3k (the higher fees being for older engine types whereas the latest engine types would result in the lower fees). Again, the use of accurate and specific engine data is vital to ensure the correct invoices are generated and received.

A320 CEO - LHR Landing Fee Range A320 CEO - LHR Landing Fee Range

Specific and additional Noise charges

At Frankfurt Airport (FRA/EDDF) there is an additional noise charge on landing and take-off. The take-off noise charge and the landing noise charges are split into 15 charge categories each. These charge categories are based upon on the local measured noise value for an aircraft. Note local measured noise values will vary from airport to airport and are dependent upon many factors including the topography of the land.

Just because an aircraft falls into a noise category for landing does not mean it falls into the same category for take-off. Added on top of this is a noise rating index charge based upon the perceived noise value. Then depending upon the time of your operation you could then have to pay a night time surcharge as well.

In the above example, interpretation of the charge document is key which could take a considerable amount of time. Especially given that some of the noise values for an aircraft are determined at the airport level and other elements of noise charges are based on the perceived noise value.

Emissions and Air Quality Charges

One final example of aircraft specific charges comes at Gatwick Airport (LGW/EGKK), which has introduced new emissions charges. These charges are based upon the NOx and CO2 output which again vary on the specific engines fitted to an aircraft. As mentioned earlier, the same aircraft type can have different engines which in turn would result in subtly different charges. Whilst these charge differences might not be significant on a single rotation, if an airline is operating the service on a regular basis, it is easy to see how these charge differences could soon add up over the course of a month or season if incorrect information is used.

We are seeing an increasing number of airports’ charges becoming more involved in terms the inputs required to calculate especially environmental based charges. Many of these inputs are very technical and are not something the airport / airline finance departments would necessarily be familiar with.

RDC’s solution to these challenges

Recognising these challenges, RDC has developed an AirportCharges Unit Rates solution for airlines. RDC create a customised dataset for your airline network and your aircraft fleet and provide airport charges for each airport on your network in a unit rate. These unit rates can then be directly uploaded into your finance or ERP system.

In addition, RDC’s LOOP is now the leading industry platform for allowing airlines to distribute their latest fleet data to airports for use in billing. Over 300 Airports and Air Navigation service providers (and over 100 airlines) are already using LOOP to share accurate and specific fleet data to streamline the financial, operational, environmental, and commercial processes, which are reliant on airline and operator airframe data, all in an intuitive, permissions led environment.

If you are interested in finding out more about our AirportCharges Unit Rates solution or LOOP please contact us.


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