The recovery of air traffic in the Federal Republic of Germany is lagging far behind other EU states, where the volume of air traffic has long been exceeded before the crisis. One reason for this is that low-cost airlines in particular are increasingly moving their services to other countries because the “additional costs” are too high. The German industry association is now also warning.
The fact that low-cost companies like Ryanair always complain that the fees they have to pay are too high is old hat. Often this is only worth a small side note in the media, because the demand to reduce taxes and duties has been repeated so often that it is hardly worth mentioning. A closer look shows that the high location costs in Germany are not a problem that only Ryanair has, but rather generally affects the entire industry and is really slowing down the recovery after the corona pandemic.
It's been a long time, but pretty much all airlines went up against the introduction of the air traffic tax many years ago. At that time, this was primarily intended to improve the state budget, but now it has been given a kind of pseudo-eco label, because the political credo is “Flying must become more expensive – climate protection”. Austria's Transport Minister Leonore Gewessler argued similarly in 2020, because in the middle of the worst crisis that aviation has ever gone through, the flight ticket tax was increased. Incidentally, the minimum prices she announced for September 2020 have not been implemented to date. In both Austria and Germany, transfer passengers are largely exempt, so that point-to-point traffic has to pay, but transfer passengers can benefit from exceptions.
Not all passengers have to pay air traffic tax
These special regulations are definitely calculated, because otherwise companies like the Lufthansa Group would cause a major uproar, as they would otherwise be at a significant competitive disadvantage compared to other hubs where such a tax would not be applicable. Example: Instead of in Frankfurt am Main, transfer passengers can also change planes in Istanbul, Doha or Warsaw.
While it was initially low-cost airlines such as Ryanair and Easyjet that criticized the high costs in Germany, the industry association BDL is now also putting pressure on them. For example, its chief executive Matthias von Randow told Welt am Sonntag that a “moratorium on air traffic” is being called for. What is specifically meant is that state taxes should be reduced or at least not increased.
According to BDL, the high location costs would really slow down point-to-point traffic on short and medium-haul routes. Many carriers would relocate their capacities abroad, where you would have to pay around 320 euros, using the example of an Airbus A4.000. This would be up to four times more expensive than from France or Spain. The consequence of this is that the P2P offering in Germany is significantly lower than in other countries.
Transport Minister wants to reconsider air traffic control costs
But the airlines could face another avalanche of costs. In the area of air traffic control, losses amounting to 1,1 billion euros were incurred during the pandemic years. The federal government's plans stipulate that these should be passed on to the airlines. The BDL is running a storm against this and is demanding that this project be abandoned. It is feared that more and more carriers will then withdraw from Germany. Not stated, but a logical consequence: The lion's share would then go to Lufthansa and its subsidiaries, so it can be assumed that there will be corresponding resistance.
Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) now wants to at least put air traffic control costs to the test. Before setting the rates for 2024, industry representatives want to be invited to a discussion. Decisions should come later. But this means that the next disagreement with the green coalition partner is already inevitable, because the latter is massively campaigning within the government for further artificial increases in the price of airline tickets, because it is believed that the more money you have to pay for tickets, the less you fly.