15 Jul 2019, 13:10
Benjamin Wehrmann

Germany's Lufthansa says more flights, despite climate debate

Neue Zürcher Zeitung am Sonntag

Despite Germany’s debate over stepping up national climate action intensifying, demand for air travel with the country’s largest airline, Lufthansa, is rising, CEO Carsten Spohr told Swiss newspaper NZZ am Sonntag in an interview (paywall). Asked about a "Greta effect", Spohr told the paper: “We see no restraint – quite the contrary.” The student movement Fridays for Future, initiated by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, has greatly increased public interest in Germany's climate policy. It also led some to expect a so-called "Greta effect" - people changing their behaviour to make it compatible with emissions reduction. Having flown record numbers of passengers in 2018, Lufthansa expects bookings to rise by another 4 percent this year. Spohr said that less than 1 percent of Lufthansa customers currently make use of the voluntary option to offset a portion of their carbon emissions by paying a surcharge. He is sceptical of a national -- or higher European -- CO2 price, but said some air fares are too low, creating “artificial demand” at “unrealistic prices”.
In an article by news agency dpa carried by news website Merkur, low fare airline Easyjet’s CEO for Germany, Stephan Erler, said his company also expected to grow this year. 

Aviation is one of the fastest growing sources of emissions and is under growing scrutiny from climate activists, some of whom have proposed taxing aeroplane fuel or banning domestic flights in Germany altogether. Aviation is currently subject to various different taxes across Europe, from VAT on domestic flights to airport taxes, but fuel is exempt from levies.

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