Number of flight passengers in Germany increases despite ‘Fridays for Future’

Despite the growing Fridays for Future climate protest movement, which calls for less plane travel, the number of flight passengers in Germany is increasing.

Number of flight passengers in Germany increases despite 'Fridays for Future'
A flight departing from Berlin's Tegel Airport in August. Photo: DPA

The number of flight passengers since the start of “Fridays for Future” – kicked off by Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg in August 2018 – has gone up over the past year, according to the latest air traffic data from Germany’s Federal Statistics Office.

READ ALSO: Over 200 'Fridays for Future' demos taking place in Germany

In the 12 months between August 2018 and July 2019, there were a total of 125.1 flight passengers, according to the data analyzed by RP Online on Wednesday. That’s up from a total of 119.4 passengers between July 2017 and July 2018.

In April of this year, there were a total of 10.7 million flight passengers, up from 9.8 million in 2018. 

The Swedish concept of “Flygskam”, or flight shame, has still taken a hold of many people across the globe.

One in five Americans and Europeans say that are taking at least one flight fewer per year due to climate change concerns, according to a study by 6,000 Americans and Europeans by Swiss Bank UBS.

Nonetheless, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), an umbrella organization of airlines, predicted in September that the number of air travelers will double in two decades.

Cutting costs

Some say that the reason people in Germany have yet to cut back massively on plane travel is the low costs of tickets, especially for domestic and intercontinental flights.

The country currently has an aviation tax, which has been levied since 2011 at rates currently ranging from €7.38 to €41.49, but is still much lower than other EU countries such as neighbouring France. 

Several politicians, including German Environment Minister Svenja Schultze, have said that plane flights departing from Germany are therefore “too cheap”, criticizing that domestic flight tickets often cost less than train tickets.

Germany’s Green Party earlier this year proposed a plan to make train travel in the Bundesrepublik so attractive – and affordable – that domestic flights become ‘obsolete’.

READ ALSO: Trains instead of planes: Could domestic flights in Germany really become ‘obsolete’?

The Christian Socialists (CSU), the Bavarian sister party to Merkel's Christian Democrats, have also proposed a “penalty tax” for flights costing less than €50 in an attempt to cut carbon emissions.

Their ideas could soon achieve more wide-reaching support. On Wednesday morning, Germany’s Federal Cabinet adopted its controversial climate packet, through which it aims to reduce greenhouse gasses by 55 percent compared to what they were in 1990. 

The law stipulates that individual ministries – including Germany’s Transportation Ministry, which have long resisted specific targets for air travel – are responsible for achieving climate protection targets.

READ ALSO: Could cheap flights in Germany receive a 'penalty tax'?


Air traffic data – (die) Luftverkehrdaten

flight passengers – (die) Flugpassagiere

increase/rise – (der) Anstieg

propose – vorschlagen

Umbrella organization – (der) Dachverband

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Germany’s centre-right CDU to elect new leadership by end of the year

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU party will elect its new leadership by the year's end, general secretary Paul Ziemiak said Monday, detailing plans for a clean slate after a disastrous election that the party lost to the Social Democrats.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and CDU leader Armin Laschet on the election campaign trail in Aachen before the election.
Chancellor Angela Merkel and CDU leader Armin Laschet on the election campaign trail in Aachen before the election. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Federico Gambarini

In power for 16 years under Merkel, the Christian Democratic Union is grappling with its deepest crisis in decades after turning in a historic low score in September’s election.

Its leader Armin Laschet last week signalled his readiness to step aside, setting the ball rolling for renewal at the top.

READ ALSO: Laschet signals he’s ready to step down as CDU leader

Ziemiak said a date for the congress to determine the new makeup of the party’s top brass as well as how rank and file members can participate in the leadership selection process will be announced on November 2nd.

But the party’s leaders “today agreed unanimously that we will elect a completely new executive board,” he said, adding that in terms of the calendar, the “window for this is year’s end”.

Bild daily had reported that the party has made a tentative booking for December 6th-13th in Dresden for its possible congress.

READ ALSO: Germany edges a step closer to a government led by Social Democrats

Laschet, who is state premier of Germany’s most populous region North Rhine-Westphalia, was elected head of the CDU in January.

For some time, he was the clear favourite to succeed Merkel, who is bowing out of politics after running four consecutive coalitions.

But his party’s ratings began to slide as he committed a series of gaffes, including being caught on camera laughing in the background during a solemn tribute to flood victims.

With the CDU’s ratings plunging, Merkel tried to boost Laschet’s campaign with joint appearances, but was unable to help the conservatives pull off a win on election day.