The Federal Supervisory Authority for Air Navigation Services (BAF) announced a shocking figure. According to BAF, the fees for German air traffic control services (DFS) will be sharply increased to leap by additional €300m annually beginning next year.
The Air Navigation’s announcement of an intended 30 percent cost increase beginning in 2015 immediately evoked sharp protest by the airline association BDF that speaks of a shameless and completely superfluous step that thwarts an existing EU decision. "Since years, the European Union insists that air navigation costs imposed by the EU member states have to be reduced instead of increased,” said a dismayed BDF CEO Michael Engel. Turning towards the Berlin Grand Coalition of Conservatives and Social Democrats he went on to say: “As owner of the national traffic control services the federal government must now ensure that this exorbitant cost rise that damages the aviation industry severely is averted."
Slap in Brussels’ face
The announcement made by the air navigators is in stark contradiction to the coalition agreement in which the federal government has agreed to strengthen the air traffic sector and to implement the EU guidelines to lower costs. Only last February, Germany together with other EU member states had agreed to reduce those charges. Therefore, the shocking intention announced by the BAF to sharply increase the navigation fees for airlines is more than surprising and a slap in Brussels’ face. As the DFS argues, the upping of fees for navigation services is indispensible for guaranteeing pension payments for their staff. In a 1993 attempt to privatize the DFS the government had shifted the pension responsibility from the state to the DFS. Ever since, the German air navigation authority is responsible for filling this pot from its own financial resources – in contrast to state-run air traffic control bodies in other EU member states.
A further step to harm carriers States Engel: "If this announcement becomes reality, the airlines in Germany would pay the most expensive route charges in any of the EU countries.” This is another step to significantly harm the national aviation sector, he warns.
The BDF-Airlines will now call upon the government to ensure the implementation of its own decision and to prevent that the already critically high charges imposed on passenger and cargo airlines are not increased again. Should the Berlin rulers don’t stop BAF’s intend and remain passive, German carriers will lose further ground to their international competitors, fears the airline association BDF.