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Germany’s Lufthansa opts for gender-neutral plane greeting

Europe's largest airline group Lufthansa said Tuesday it was retiring "ladies and gentlemen" as an on-board greeting in favour of gender-neutral alternatives.

Germany's Lufthansa opts for gender-neutral plane greeting
A Lufthansa plane flying near Frankfurt in May. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Boris Roessler

A spokesman for the German company told AFP the move was intended to make all passengers on board feel welcome, including those who do not identify as male or female.

“Crews are being instructed to choose a greeting that includes all passengers,” he said, adding that “dear guests” or a simple “good morning/good evening” would be used instead.

The new policy, which will be phased in gradually, applies to German flag carrier Lufthansa as well as the group’s Swiss, Austrian, Brussels and Eurowings airlines.

The company said it was responding to a “discussion that is rightly being held in society” about non-binary gender identification and a desire “to value all guests on board”.

Germany has joined the international debate about more inclusive language to take into account diverse gender identities and an increasingly multicultural society.

In recent days major cities including Berlin, Munich and Hamburg said that their transport networks would stop using the word “Schwarzfahren (black riding) to describe travel without a ticket in response to complaints the word had a racist taint.   

READ ALSO: ‘No more Schwarzfahren’: Austrian and German cities to phase out term due to racism concerns

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TRAVEL NEWS

Could drivers in Germany fund a future €9 ticket scheme?

Germany's much-talked about €9 ticket offer ends later this month. But a think tank has suggested that a toll system for drivers could provide funding to subsidise public transport, as well as to upgrade the roads network.

Could drivers in Germany fund a future €9 ticket scheme?

It is the main sticking point for reduced price travel continuing in Germany after the €9 ticket expires at the end of August – where would the money come from?

Now a group of experts have a proposal on how it could be funded in the future – and it involves car drivers. 

In a study, the think tank Centrum für Europäische Politik (CEP) presented a concept for a general car toll, the revenue from which could be used to finance the costs of a permanent €9 ticket for local transport.

In the paper, which was made available to German newspaper Welt am Sonntag, the authors propose a route-dependent toll system throughout Germany – i.e. not only on Autobahns or country roads, but on all roads. This could be made possible by a satellite-based recording of the kilometres driven.

Furthermore, there would be differences in the prices per kilometre depending on the vehicle class, in order to reflect the different loads on the infrastructure caused by the weight and exhaust emissions of the vehicles.

READ ALSO:

The CEP calculated a surcharge of 6.9 cents per kilometre, however, there is currently an upper limit of four cents in Europe. The researchers suggest standardising the different toll systems that are used in European countries.

According to the study, revenue from the toll, amounting to around €12 billion, could initially be used to cover maintenance costs and to reduce the investment backlog in road transport. In this way, the acceptance of the levy among motorists could also be increased, the experts said.

However, the indirect consequential costs of car traffic, such as exhaust fumes and noise, should also be compensated. The report authors said the funds could therefore also used to expand public transport or to finance a permanent €9 ticket. 

The ticket, which is valid in all public transport networks in Germany – including on regional trains – currently costs around €2.5 billion for three months.

The suggestion comes after an attempt to introduce a car toll in Germany that only foreign drivers would have paid because German drivers were to be reimbursed failed under the previous federal government. The European Court of Justice rejected it as discrimination against foreign drivers. 

Tax excess profits of companies 

Meanwhile, Social Democrat leader Lars Klingbeil has said a follow-up ticket to the €9 offer could be funded by an ‘excess profits tax’.

“We have just seen that the €9 ticket makes sense, that it is accepted, that the citizens also want the extension,” Klingbeil told the radio station NDR Info.

With the excess profits tax, he said, the financing of a successor model could also be pushed forward.

The excess profits tax is intended for companies that profit from the energy crisis without making any contribution of their own. In Britain, for example, oil and gas companies have to pay a temporary 25 per cent tax on their extra profits. In Germany’s traffic light coalition, the Greens are also in favour of a supplementary tax, while the pro-business FDP rejects it.

FDP leader and Finance Minister Christian Lindner has repeatedly rejected an immediate follow-up to the €9 ticket, blaming finance woes.

At the weekend Lindner slammed the “freebie mentality” surrounding the ticket, and said continuing it with funding from the government wouldn’t be fair anyway. 

“People in the countryside who don’t have a train station nearby and depend on the car would subsidise cheap local transport,” he said. “I don’t think that’s fair,”

READ ALSO:

Vocabulary

Car toll – (die) Pkw-Maut

Local transport – (der) Nahverkehr

Revenue – (die) Einnahmen

Freebie mentality – (die) Gratismentalität

We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

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