Germany Mulls Doubling Domestic Aviation Taxes

Germany’s leading party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) has revealed plans to double the country’s domestic aviation taxes. Here, we explore the proposal, the country’s aviation plans, and compare Germany’s taxes to its European peers.

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Germany’s CDU has announced plans to double domestic aviation ticket taxes. Photo: Transport Pixels / Wikimedia Commons

Doubling the tax

In a policy paper covering Germany’s climate and economic ambitions, the CDU announced plans to double aviation taxes on all domestic flights. As things currently stand, domestic flights in Germany are subject to a € 7.38 levy. This charge, however, could increase up to 14.76.

Under the plan, flights connecting to an onward destination would be excluded from the levy. Passengers flying to privileged destinations such as islands would also not be charged. Moreover, engines which do not use fossil fuels will not be charged under the proposal.

The policy paper also underscored that all taxes, duties and other charges should be reflected in the initial ticket price.

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The tax proposal could encourage travelers to take the train instead. Photo: calflier001 / Wikimedia Commons

The policy move is largely believed to discourage short-haul domestic flights and in turn, encourage domestic rail travel. Politicians in Germany also hope to spend aviation-tax revenues on various environmentally-friendly initiatives.

How do Germany’s levies compare?

Compared to other EU countries, Germany already ranks towards the upper echelons of passenger levies.

In addition to the existing € 7.38 ticket tax on domestic travel, Germany imposes a €7.50 levy on European travel and €23.43 on passengers flying to Annex-II countries, largely composing of destinations in Africa and the Middle-East. Passengers traveling to all other countries are charged €42.18 per ticket.

Germany already charges above-average levies on airline passengers. Photo: Juke Schweizer / Wikimedia Commons

While the UK’s Air Passenger Duty is significantly higher than Germany’s, neighboring Austria levies about half as much as Germany.

Specifically, Austria’s Air Transport Levy is charged at a rate of 3.50 for short-haul flights, 7.50 for medium-haul, and 17.50 for other destinations.

On Germany’s other border, France imposes a progressive Air Passenger Solidarity tax at a rate of € 1.13 for economy class passengers flying to the EAA / Switzerland and French territories.

Lufthansa "Say Yes to Europe"
Lufthansa’s European competitors operate in differing cost and tax environments.  Photo: TJDarmstadt / Wikimedia Commons

Business class passengers flying to the same destinations are charged € 11.27. For all other destinations, France charges passengers in economy class € 4.51, and € 45.07 for business and first-class PAX.

The Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, for example, do not levy any sort of ticket tax. Only VAT and various airport and security charges are billed.

Working with the industry?

In addition to the tax increases, the CDU policy paper outlined the government’s desire to work with industry on environmental issues and eventually create sustainable fuel factories.

We will invest together with the aviation industry to bring electric short-distance flying to production maturity and to be able to achieve climate neutrality on the medium and long-haul routes” – CDU policy paper (translated from German)

While the domestic aviation industry is largely in favor of the promotion of alternative aviation fuels, Lufthansa for one is more skeptical of the tax. A Lufthansa Group spokesperson told Simple Flying that,

“A high burden for domestic flights disproportionately affects German airlines and deprives them of money for modern airplanes and climate-friendly technologies.”

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Lufthansa, for one, has already heavily invested in alternative fuels. Note the Pure Sky logo on the engine. Photo: Konstantin von Wedelstaedt / Wikimedia Commons

The spokesperson also pointed out that domestic flights only account for 0.3% of Germany’s overall carbon dioxide output. Adding that “it is more than questionable whether the proposed measures will bring tangible ecological results.

Germany’s aviation association, BDL, largely mirrored Lufthansa’s stance. A spokesperson for the association told Simple Flying that,

“Instead of raising the German air travel tax, our politicians should rather encourage other European governments to introduce a tax comparable to the German air travel tax,” further adding that, “the government should use the existing tax revenue for bringing alternative sustainable fuels onto the market”.

So, what do you think of the CDU proposal? What do you think the future holds for Germany’s aviation industry? Let us know in the comments.