Establishing route charges

The Central Route Charges Office levies charges only for flights actually performed. You will find below the applicable unit rates, calculation method and payment conditions for route charges, as well as the exempted flight categories

How are route charges calculated?

Air service navigation providers (ANSPs) from the States participating in the Route Charges System recover the cost for facilities and services provided to airspace users by means of route charges. A charge is levied for each flight performed in the airspace falling within the competence of the Contracting States. This charge takes into account the distance flown and, less than proportionately, the aircraft weight.  

The total charge per flight collected by EUROCONTROL (R) equals the sum of the charges (ri) generated in the charging zones defined by States:

The individual charge (ri) is equal to the product of the distance factor (di), the weight factor (p) and the unit rate (ti).

di x p) is defined as the number of service units in charging zone (i) for this flight.

  • The distance factor (di) is equal to one hundredth of the great circle distance, expressed in kilometres, between the aerodrome of departure within (or the point of entry into) the charging zone (i) and the aerodrome of first destination within (or the point of exit from) that charging zone.
  • The entry and exit points are the points at which the lateral limits of the charging zone are crossed by the route described in the last filed flight plan. This flight plan incorporates any changes made by the operator to the flight plan initially filed as well as any changes approved by the operator resulting from air traffic flow management measures.
  • The distance to be taken into account is reduced by a notional twenty kilometres for each take-off and for each landing within a charging zone (i).
  • The weight factor (p) is the square root of the quotient obtained by dividing by fifty (50) the number of metric tonnes in the maximum certificated take-off weight (MTOW) of the aircraft as follows:

Flight categories liable for the payment of route charges

In principle, all flights are subject to route charges. Nevertheless, all Contracting States have accepted to exempt the following categories of flights from the payment of route charges:

  • flights performed by aircraft of which the maximum take-off weight authorised is less than two (2) metric tonnes;
  • flights performed exclusively for the transport, on official mission, of the reigning Monarch and his/her immediate family, Heads of State, Heads of Government, and Government Ministers. In all cases, this must be substantiated by the appropriate status indicator or remark on the flight plan;
  • search and rescue flights authorised by the appropriate competent body.

Furthermore, Contracting State(s) may, in respect of the charging zone falling within their competence, exempt the following from payment of route charges:

  • military flights performed by the military aircraft of any State;
  • training flights performed exclusively for the purpose of obtaining a licence, or a rating in the case of cockpit flight crew, and where this is substantiated by an appropriate remark on the flight plan. Flights must be performed solely within this charging zone. Flights must not serve for the transport of passengers and/or cargo, nor for positioning or ferrying of the aircraft;
  • flights performed exclusively for the purpose of checking or testing equipment used or intended to be used as ground aids to air navigation, excluding positioning flights by the aircraft concerned;
  • flights terminating at the aerodrome from which the aircraft has taken off and during which no intermediate landing has been made (circular flights);
  • flights performed exclusively under Visual Flight Rules (VFR) within this charging zone;
  • humanitarian flights authorised by the appropriate competent body;
  • customs and police flights.

Where exemption is granted, the state concerned bears the cost which would otherwise be chargeable to the flights.

Conditions of application/payment

The common rules for calculating route charges as well as the categories of exempted flights may be reviewed by the Member States. Any modifications are published in adapted Conditions of Application of the Route Charges System and Conditions of Payment.

Cost-base and unit rate

Route charges constitute a remuneration for the costs incurred by States and air navigation service providers in respect of en-route services and the costs incurred by EUROCONTROL. The costs included in the cost-base are:

  • provision of services (ATC, COM, NAV, MET, AIS, etc.) incl. overheads, training, research and development, etc;
  • regulatory services (States, etc.);
  • international agreements (EUROCONTROL, etc.).

Tariffs are calculated using a traffic forecast. An adjustment mechanism balances gains or losses on year n+2. Although the system is based on full cost recovery, it also provides for the application of economic regulation. States establish a forecast cost-base for each charging zone falling within their competence, applying the common principles for the year in which the charges are collected. This cost-base comprises operating costs plus depreciation costs and cost of capital, as well as States’ share of EUROCONTROL's costs (excluding CRCO costs).

A unit rate is then established for each charging zone. It is expressed in euro and consists of two parts:

  • the unit rate, obtained by dividing the en-route facility forecast cost-base of the charging zone concerned for the reference year by the forecast number of service units to be generated in the airspace of that charging zone during the same year;
  • the administrative unit rate, the purpose of which is to recover the costs of collecting route charges (CRCO costs). It is obtained by dividing these costs by the number of service units generated in the EUROCONTROL charging area as a whole. The component of the unit rate representing the CRCO costs is therefore identical in all charging zones.

These figures are presented by the States' representatives at the enlarged Committee for Route Charges sessions in June (preliminary figures) and November (final figures). The unit rates are then approved by the enlarged Commission.

The unit rates are applicable as from 1 January of each year. To reduce the effects of exchange-rate fluctuations on the system, the unit rates involving Contracting States with a national currency that is not euro are adjusted every month in line with the exchange rate of the euro against the national currencies concerned. However, States experiencing high inflation can establish their costs in euro without any subsequent monthly adjustment of their unit rate.

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