Germany’s Government Wants To Spend Aviation Taxes On The Environment

The first national aviation conference for Germany, the Luftfahrtkonferenz, took place yesterday in Leipzig. At the event, politicians and aviation professionals confirmed their commitment to reducing CO2 from air travel. One route to this goal which gained much support from both policymakers and airlines was to use aviation taxes to pay for climate-friendly initiatives.

Aviation taxes could pay for the development of alternative fuels. Photo: Tom Boon / Simple Flying

BDL calls for a targeted spend of tax revenue

The German Aviation Association (BDL) has previously said that it wants to make air travel a zero CO2 emissions industry. The association has raised proposals for achieving this, including investment in efficient aircraft and more support for alternative fuels.

At the time, the association recommended that all the revenue gained from aviation tax in Germany be plowed into getting renewable fuels to market.

In Germany, aviation taxes are levied at €7.50 per passenger on a short-haul flight, €23.43 for medium-haul and €42.18 for long-haul journeys. Last year, the taxes raised around €1.2bn in total for the government.

Support from ministers

Speaking at the German federal government’s first aviation summit in Leipzig yesterday, Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer told Focus that,

“Our ministry wants to promote instead of ban, make clean and synthetic fuels cheaper. We are committed to using aviation tax revenues for research, innovation and climate targets.”

Andreas Scheuer
Andreas Scheuer. Photo: Fotograf Studio Weichselbaumer via Wikipedia

He went on to say that air traffic must be high quality and clean, concluding with the statement,

“I do not want cheap flying to win”.

As such, Scheuer was right behind the idea of using the income from aviation taxes for the development of renewable fuels, as well as other environmental initiatives. Right now, aviation taxes are part of Germany’s federal budget and are not used specifically for anything related to the climate or environment.

Despite fairly high taxation already in place, some politicians think it’s just not enough. Previously, German Environment Minister Svenja Schulze has called for an increase in these taxes, saying the world needs “a fair CO2 price for air travel,” as reported in the Rheinische Post.

Airlines should offer a ‘fair CO2 price’. Photo: Tom Boon / Simple Flying

Green politicians have already demanded a doubling of the existing taxes, and say that these should not flow into the federal budget but instead be invested in things like low emission aircraft and alternative fuels.

However, any increase in tax is likely to pose a problem for airlines, as increased competition in the European marketplace leaves them struggling to recoup the costs from passengers with higher ticket prices.

Support from Lufthansa too

While a rise in taxation could be difficult for airlines to bear, one airline is not put off by the idea. Carsten Spohr, CEO of Lufthansa, commented at the event that he sees great opportunities to reduce the impact of aviation on the climate over the next decade.

Despite challenges in recouping costs of taxes, Lufthansa support using them for environmental initiatives. Photo: Tom Boon / Simple Flying

As reported by Flight Global, Spohr proclaimed his commitment to lowering CO2 emissions from aviation. He noted the potential for synthetic kerosene and other alternative fuels as a route to achieving this goal. Specifically, he is quoted as saying that,

“It would make sense to invest in the market development of CO2-neutral fuels or other measures that make air transport more climate-friendly,”

He went on to support the idea of using taxes to fund such developments.

The Lufthansa CEO also pointed out the ways in which Lufthansa are already working towards a lower carbon footprint, citing the airline’s fleet renewal program as a prime example. He also noted the importance of modernizing navigation services to reduce additional fuel burn due to unnecessary detours.

Spohr has previously been outspoken about low airline fares, calling them ‘irresponsible’ and singling out Ryanair as one of the worst offenders.