Airlines outraged over planned passenger departure tax

German airlines reacted angrily Thursday to details of a proposed new tax on passengers leaving the country's airports that could boost ticket prices for long-haul destinations by €26 ($33).

Airlines outraged over planned passenger departure tax
Photo: DPA

The planned tax, unveiled by the German government in June as part of a multi-billion package of belt-tightening measures, would add at least €13 to shorter-haul flights within Europe, according to a draft law.

“We reject this tax completely,” Peter Schneckenleitner, a spokesman for German flag carrier Lufthansa, Europe’s biggest airline by passenger numbers, told news agency AFP. “For German passengers, it will definitely make travelling more expensive … this will hit the German economy as a whole.”

Citing independent studies, he estimated the introduction of the tax could lead to the loss of up to 10,000 jobs and cut passenger numbers by as much as five percent.

Joachim Hunold, head of Air Berlin, Germany’s second-largest airline, also said passenger numbers would fall and that jobs would be lost.

When the plans were first revealed, the director general of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Giovanni Bisignani, dismissed them as “the worst kind of short-sighted policy irresponsibility.”

Wolfgang Mayrhuber, Lufthansa chief executive, also said at the time that the tax would be “an extra burden to slow us down.”

The levy is set to run until a carbon-emissions trading scheme that has already been agreed comes into effect for air travel in 2012.

Berlin hopes it will fill government coffers with around €1 billion.

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Is Leipzig really Germany’s ‘ultimate travel destination’?

The Saxonian city of Leipzig has been named by traveller’s bible Lonely Planet as its “ultimate” travel tip for Germany. Does the Local Germany’s knowledgeable readership agree?

The city centre of Leipzig.
The city centre of Leipzig. Photo: Jan Woitas/dpa-Zentralbild

Long a cult favourite among Germany fans, the left-wing city of Leipzig appears to now be gaining mainstream recognition after the Lonely Planet crowned it the country’s top travel destination this week.

In a new book titled “Ultimate German Travel Destinations – the top 250”, the travel publisher put Leipzig ahead of picturesque getaways such as Lake Constance and the Zugspitze as its number one destination.

“The hype that some say surrounds the city isn’t hype t all: Leipzig really is hipper than Berlin, and hotter than Munich, especially among millennials,” the guidebook boldly claims.

It goes on to lavish praise on the city of 600,000 inhabitants as “young, exciting, multifaceted – sometimes colourful, sometimes grey – and with a vibrant liveliness.”

“Everyone wants to go to the city where the anti-GDR demonstrations started,” the guidebook continues. “It is the home of Auerbachs Keller (made famous by Goethe and Faust); it’s the city of street art and wave gothic festivals; and its artistic scene at the Baumwollspinnerei is second to none.”

READ ALSO: A love letter to the eastern German city of Leipzig

‘Not cooler than Berlin’

Reaction to the list among the Local’s readership was mixed.

“It is a beautiful city and it’s easy to navigate. I find it hard to say that it’s cooler than Berlin, though. Berlin simply has more,” one reader told us on Facebook. “It’s the kind of place where people find their ‘spot.” I think most people in Leipzig know about most places in Leipzig. It’s a much smaller city. That may just be a more favourable lifestyle for some.”

Praise for Saxony’s biggest city ranged from admiration for the beauty of its architecture (particularly its train station) to the vibrancy of its arts scene.

Others suggested that Leipzig is indeed overhyped and that it can’t compete with natural wonders such as the pristine Königssee in the Bavarian Alps.

Lake Constance wins silver

Lake Constance, the country’s largest body of fresh water, came in second on the list.

The authors praised the southern See, which borders Switzerland and Austria, for “the many beautiful spots on its shores: Lindau, Meersburg, Überlingen, Constance and more – often surrounded by lush orchards.”

A regatta on the Bodensee in September 2021. Photo: dpa | Felix Kästle 

Hamburg’s new Elbphilharmonie concert hall came in third. 

“It’s impossible to imagine the Hanseatic city’s skyline without this glass work of art, which soars into the sky above the harbour like a frozen wave,” the book notes.

Also in the top ten were the Wattenmeer, which is a huge nature reserve on the North Sea coast, Berlin’s museum island, the sandstone hills of Saxony, and Germany’s highest peak, the Zugspitze in Bavaria.