Passengers shun airports after flight tax

Passengers shun airports after flight tax
Photo: DPA
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.

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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