Israel’s airport authority says the country will ban Boeing 747 and similar aircraft with four engines as of March 31, 2023 to reduce noise and air pollution.
As part of a broader plan under development to improve the surrounding environment, the authority said that it had already told airlines they would not be able to land large airplanes at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv as of the 2023 summer season.
The directive is mainly for cargo aircraft since most, it not all, carriers have stopped using 747 and other four-engine planes on routes to Israel. The Israeli flag carrier retired its Boeing 747-400s shortly before the pandemic, and uses twin-engine Boeing 777 and 787 planes on long-haul routes, but many 4-engine aircraft are still around and used by cargo operators.
Concern has been expressed by some cargo operators, as some oversized cargo will at times need to be transported to Israel, and Israel is as a refuelling stop. The airports authority believes that operation of aircraft with four engines will be allowed in exceptional cases and only with a special permit. This will have to be applied for and obtained in advance.
While details of what exceptions will be allowed remain scarce, an emergency landing or government aircraft, such as Presidential jets like Air Force One, would presumably be granted permission.
Director General of the Israel Airports Authority (IAA), Hagai Topolansky, confirmed the measure, stating: “The increase in passenger and aircraft traffic at Ben Gurion Airport is an environmental challenge. I intend to lead the Airports Authority and Ben Gurion Airport not only in the fields of digitisation but also to lead the environment and sustainability in the world of aviation, stopping the landing of 4-engine planes at Ben Gurion Airport is one step and the first step in a broader plan that is currently being formulated.”
Emirates currently operates to Tel Aviv twice daily from Dubai (DXB) with its twin-engine Boeing 777 aircraft. There were rumours that the service was soon planned to be upgraded to the Airbus A380. Following the announcement from the IAA, Emirates, and other airlines will now have to rethink any such plans.
When it comes to more modern four-engine aircraft, critics have argued that the ban will be ineffective. Aircraft with four engines are not always less environmentally friendly than their twin-engine counterparts. For example, thanks to its large passenger capacity, the Airbus A380 has a lower fuel burn per passenger than many twin-engine aircraft.
It will be interesting to see if other international airport operators follow suit, or will wait and see how this pans out.