If politicians keep their feet on the brake, Germany’s air transport industry will continue falling back behind its European neighbours, warns the Board of Airline Representatives in Germany (BARIG). Available data supports the association’s latest complaint, echoed at Berlin-held ITB, the world’s leading travel trade show.
Germany’s aviation industry is at risk of losing its leading position due to homemade burdens and restraints, warns BARIG. Should the current trend continue, air connectivity would be reduced and
the quality of the air network degraded, a horrifying scenario for the country’s strong export industry and its many leisure travelers. Further to this, BARIG fears an impairment of the economy
and that jobs in the aviation sector will be increasingly exported instead of being created at home.
BARIG’s assertions are based on latest data that evidence the disturbing trend. According to 2016 statistics, around 232 million passengers were counted at German airports, a y-o-y traveler growth of meager 3.4 percentage points. In comparison, at Luxembourg passenger numbers climbed impressive 11.8 percent, followed by Spain (11%), Ireland (10.4%), the Netherlands (8.6%) and the UK (6.2%).
Bold figures that strongly support BARIG’s position.
So no wonder that BARIG’s General Secretary Michael Hoppe speaks of an “alarming development,” particularly because “no change in trend can be expected under the given circumstances.”
What’s needed is a U-turn in aviation policies, he urges, while his index finger points at Berlin’s Merkel government.
German aviation policy marks time
“Rethinking is urgently advised in politics, within administrative bodies and at airport operators. Germany needs attractive and competitive framework conditions for the air traffic industry at a price level comparable to its competitors,” Michael states. Special passenger fees levied by the national tax collector, night flight bans driving airlines away or extremely lengthy and costly planning processes in building new airport infrastructure are impending the country’s growth potential in aviation “or threaten to extinguish it completely,” fears Herr Hoppe.
Therefore, the association representing no less than 100 national and international airlines operating in Germany demands a noticeable relief for airlines. The air traffic tax alone implies an annual strain of over 1 billion euros. In addition, aviation security fees in Germany amount to costs of 700 million euros.
As to security checks and controls, BARIG argues that these expenditures should be covered by the state, as done in Spain, Italy or the USA. In contrast, airlines have to shoulder most of these costs in Germany.
Lower charges stimulate growth
Moreover, BARIG urges airport operators to not further increase their already extremely high charges. The manager points out: “spiraling costs deriving from the continuous increase of charges should be countered by new effective mechanisms. With lower charges for all airlines operating at a certain location, a sustainable growth in passenger figures could be achieved which in turn would obviously be profitable to the airports. More passengers create more revenue for airports since passengers increasingly use airport premises for parking, shopping, dining and so on.”
Conversely, more cargo traffic ups the airport’s revenues as well.
Regarding charges, BARIG advocates a much more transparent scheme airport operators should table together with a fair charges structure that does not favor some players and discriminate others.
Hopefully, his words got through to Frau Merkel and the Berlin policy makers. Time will tell.