11 Feb 2020, 13:48
Benjamin Wehrmann

Aviation industry cuts domestic flights in Germany, calls for EU-wide synthetic fuel approach

Clean Energy Wire

The number of air passengers in Germany is set to decline in 2020, as carriers are projected to reduce the number of available seats by 1.8 percent in the first nine months of the year, the German Aviation Association (BDL) said in its annual report. While domestic connections are poised to drop 7 percent, inner-European connections would be reduced by 2 percent, and intercontinental flights are set to grow by 3 percent, the BDL added. However, the total number of available seats this year will still be 9 percent higher than in 2016. Domestic flights accounted for about 10 percent of all flights in Germany in 2019. According to the BDL, lower demand for flights last year was mainly due to slower economic growth and the long-term effects of Air Berlin's insolvency. BDL head Klaus-Dieter Scheurle said given that international passenger numbers continue to rise, aviation urgently needed to be made more climate-friendly. He called for a joint European effort to boost the production and use of synthetic jet fuels to allow for carbon-neutral flights. "The European patchwork of national aviation taxes needs to end," Scheurle said, adding that tax income should be used for synthetic fuel research. He said national measures, such as the increase of Germany's aviation tax this April, would be "counterproductive," as they "merely shift emissions to foreign competitors."

While aviation only accounts for a small share of Germany's total emissions, it is one of the fastest-growing greenhouse gas sources and global passenger numbers are projected to grow rapidly over the next years. The government has decided on first steps to better integrate the sector in climate action policy in its climate package through higher taxes on airplane tickets. Moreover, a new "competence centre" for climate action in the aviation sector has been launched at Germany's most important airport in Frankfurt am Main in early 2020 to advance research into synthetic fuel technology.

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