Passengers shun airports after flight tax

Passenger statistics for this year’s first six months appear to show that Germany’s new flight tax is driving thrifty flyers away from German airports and to neighbouring countries.

Passengers shun airports after flight tax
Photo: DPA

At discount carrier Ryanair’s Frankfurt-Hahn hub, there were 12.8 percent fewer passengers during the first six months this year as compared to 2010, the Financial Times Deutschland (FTD) reported on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Berlin’s Schönefeld Airport, which is dominated by economy airlines easyJet and Germanwings, registered a small increase in passengers of just 1.4 percent.

Though German airport traffic is hardly contracting – nationally, airports saw on average a five percent rise in passengers – those numbers are much less than the European average of a 12.1 percent increase, the FTD reported.

In comparison, Eindhoven Airport in the Netherlands had 1.2 million passengers in this year’s first six months – 30 percent more than last year. The Dutch airport competes with Weeze in neighbouring North Rhine-Westphalia, which saw a 2.7 percent dip. Maastricht’s Airport more than doubled its passenger numbers.

It’s not clear how much of the damage is being done by airlines cutting flights and how much by passengers actively seeking cheaper department points. Ryanair has expressed particular anger toward the levy and has slashed its German schedule in response.

The German Airports Association (ADV) said the statistics showed the tax was stunting the country’s airports.

“It reveals ever more marked damage since the beginning of the year caused by

the flight tax,” said ADV CEO Ralph Beisel. “The result will be a loss of jobs in Germany.”

In March, government officials revealed that the tax, which is supposed to bring €1 billion per year in additional revenues to government coffers, was bringing in much less money than expected. They said they hoped a busy summer travel season would boost revenues.

The Local/DAPD/mdm

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UPDATE: Ryanair passenger jet makes emergency landing in Berlin over ‘fake bomb threat’

Polish police said Monday they were investigating a fake bomb threat that forced a Ryanair passenger plane travelling from Dublin to Krakow to make an emergency landing in Berlin.

UPDATE: Ryanair passenger jet makes emergency landing in Berlin over 'fake bomb threat'
A Ryanair flight making an emergency landing

The flight from Dublin to Krakow made the unexpected diversion after a reported bomb threat, German newspaper Bild Zeitung said.

“We were notified by the Krakow airport that an airport employee received a phone call saying an explosive device had been planted on the plane,” said regional police spokesman, Sebastian Glen.

“German police checked and there was no device, no bomb threat at all. So we know this was a false alarm,” he told AFP on Monday.

“The perpetrator has not been detained, but we are doing everything possible to establish their identity,” Glen added, saying the person faces eight years in prison.

With 160 people on board, the flight arrived at the Berlin Brandenburg airport shortly after 8 pm Sunday, remaining on the tarmac into early Monday morning.

A Berlin police spokesperson said that officers had completed their security checks “without any danger being detected”.

“The passengers will resume their journey to Poland on board a spare aeroplane,” she told AFP, without giving more precise details for the alert.

The flight was emptied with the baggage also searched and checked with sniffer dogs, German media reported.

The passengers were not able to continue their journey until early Monday morning shortly before 4:00 am. The federal police had previously classified the situation as harmless. The Brandenburg police are now investigating the case.

Police said that officers had completed their security checks “without any danger being detected”.

“The Ryanair plane that made an emergency landed reported an air emergency and was therefore immediately given a landing permit at BER,” airport spokesman Jan-Peter Haack told Bild.

“The aircraft is currently in a safe position,” a spokeswoman for the police told the newspaper.

The incident comes a week after a Ryanair flight was forced to divert to Belarus, with a passenger — a dissident journalist — arrested on arrival.

And in July last year, another Ryanair plane from Dublin to Krakow was forced to make an emergency landing in London after a false bomb threat.

READ ALSO: Germany summons Belarus envoy over forced Ryanair landing