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Geneva - The International Air Transport Association (IATA) sharply criticized the increase in German aviation taxes, which will weaken the German economy and damage aviation’s ability to decarbonize.

On 1 May, German taxes on flying increased by 19% to between EUR 15.53 and EUR 70.83 per passenger, depending on the route. The tax will make Germany less competitive in key economic areas such as exports, tourism, and jobs. It will further affect Germany’s air transport recovery from the pandemic, which is one of the slowest in the EU. Germany’s international passenger numbers, for example, are still 20% below pre-pandemic levels. 

“When Germany’s economic performance is anemic at best, denting its competitiveness with more taxes on aviation is policy madness. The government should be prioritizing measures to improve Germany’s competitive position and encouraging trade and travel. Instead, they have gone for a short-term cash-grab which can only damage the economy’s long-term growth," said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.

IATA also warned that the tax increase will hamper the industry’s efforts to decarbonize. Aviation has a goal of reaching net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050 and sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) are vital to this effort. The German government coalition agreement originally stated that revenues from aviation taxes would directly fund production of SAF, but this commitment has been broken. In addition, weakening the German air transport industry with this tax makes it harder for airlines to invest in SAF, in a more fuel-efficient fleet and other decarbonization efforts.  Furthermore, the German government appears sympathetic to the European Taxation Directive which would add a tax on jet fuel.

"The German government appears to have an unhealthy obsession with aviation taxes. On top of increasing the passenger tax, it is also in favor of a European jet fuel tax which will make it even more expensive to do business in Germany or for families to go on holiday. Our survey of air travelers in Germany shows deep skepticism about government claims for ‘green taxes’. 75% agreed with the statement “Taxation is not the way to make aviation sustainable” and 72% agreed that “Green taxes are just government greenwashing”. Time and again, we see taxation that was supposed to help the industry decarbonize be stolen and then lost in the general budget. And money taken out of the industry means that it has less money to invest in other decarbonization measures,” said Walsh.

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Notes for Editors:

  • The IATA passenger insights survey was conducted 31 October – 13 November 2023 with a sample of 6,500 recent travelers. It covers 15 markets (Australia, Canada, Chile, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, UAE, US, and UK). Sample size in each market was 500 apart from Chile, Japan, Netherlands, Singapore and UAE where it was 300. This Is Motif Ltd prepared the questionnaire and analysis based on data collection and tabulation by Dynata.