German transport minister calls for pan-European air tax


German Transport Minister Peter Ramsauer called for a proposed air passenger tax to be extended to other European countries, according to a German newspaper.

“I am promoting a course of action that is as consistent as possible,” daily Handelsblatt cited Ramsauer as saying in a summary of an article to be published on Monday.

Chancellor Angela Merkel last month announced plans for a German air passenger tax as part of 80 billion euros ($103.8 billion) of budget measures, stunning the aviation industry and sparking protest from airlines and lobby groups.

Under the proposal, airlines will be taxed from 2011 according to the distance passengers travel. For shorter trips, in the European Union and countries less then 2,500 km away, the tax is set at 13 euros ($16.90). For longer trips it would be 26 euros.

But according to reports, the country’s Economy Ministry has raised doubts about the proposal due to concern the tax could end up cutting passenger traffic and more than negate any revenue increases the tax would generate.

German airlines association the BDF has said it expects 10,000 jobs to shift abroad and German passenger volume to drop by 5 million per year due to the tax. In 2009, there were 182 million passengers in Germany.

Germany’s two biggest airlines, Lufthansa and Air Berlin, have protested against the proposed tax, saying it will burden the industry just as European airlines are struggling to emerge from the industry’s worst downturn in decades.