Currently, in countries like Germany, where green parties have a say in politics, we shouldn’t be surprised to hear that the idea of banning domestic flights is being discussed.
When low-cost carriers first emerged in the German market, they were welcomed with open arms. Before LCCs like Ryanair and easyJet arrived, Germans were at the mercy of Lufthansa’s pricing for domestic travel and charter airlines for their holidays.
But the pleasure of the low-cost fare could be at risk, as environmentalists, politicians and even full-service airlines like Lufthansa are calling for a change. The German Green party wants to ban domestic air travel altogether and make people take less polluting trains to travel around Germany.
Even Lufthansa weighs in on the argument, complaining that the budget airline fares are too low. This is kind of ironic seeing as Lufthansa operates its own LCC called Eurowings.
Airfares within Europe should not cost less than 50€
While an outright ban is not on the table yet, the dominant political party in Bavaria, the Christian Social Union, wants to impose a fairly hefty tax on cheap flights according to the Local.de.
The website I AM Expat.de claims German daily newspaper Bild has seen a paper that will be presented at the CSU delegation’s conference next week. The paper, according to Bild, calls for a tax on flights that cost less than 50 euros.
Delegation leader, Alexander Dorbrindt, told the German newspaper: “I want climate protection instead of competitive prices. Nine euro tickets for flights in Europe have nothing to do with the market economy or with climate protection.”
While the exact amount has yet to be decided, it would be imposed on top of taxes, fees, and charges already applied to air tickets. Dorbrindt, who used to be the Federal Minister for Transport and Digital Infrastructure, added,
“Flying needs a minimum price and trains in Germany need a VAT reduction. Anyone who offers airline tickets under 50 euros should have to pay a penalty tax in the future.”
Another idea that seems to be gaining ground is a CO2 tax to be calculated based on the emissions each mode of transport produces. Whichever argument wins the day, one thing is for certain and that is air travel in Germany and possibly Europe is about to get more expensive.
Plane versus Train
While in some parts of the world the idea of traveling by train rather than flying does not make sense, in Europe it is not only feasible but gaining in popularity too.
Besides the emissions issue, traveling by train can be more convenient and less stressful than flying. Let’s be honest here and look at it practically; when have you ever heard anyone say “you have to be at the train station three hours before your train departs”? Then there are all the security checks at the airport whereas with most rail journeys you just walk down the platform and board the train.
Another advantage trains have over airplanes is that they take you directly into the city, whereas an airport is more often than not miles outside the center. Some examples of places where it is quicker to take the train than to fly, according to Smart Travel, are Barcelona to Madrid, London to Paris, Florence to Naples, Brussels to Paris and London to Amsterdam.
Rail tickets are too expensive
If there is a downside to taking the train over flying it is the price of the ticket.
Rail fares, as a rule, are much more expensive than the cost of an LCC air ticket. If the German government decides to slap an emissions tax on airfares and scrap the value-added tax on rail fares, it could prove to be a game-changer.
What do you think about the idea of a tax on budget airlines tickets is it a good idea or not? Please let us know in the comments.