Austrian government to introduce higher taxes on flights, with a minimum flight price of €40
No less than 40 euros
Austria defines a minimum price for flights
Austria to introduce €40 minimum flight price
Author: AFP (RTL – Luxemburg)
Austria’s government announced Monday it would introduce a €40 minimum price for flights in order to combat “social and environmental dumping.”
At a press conference announcing a government-backed rescue package for Austrian Airlines, Environment Minister Leonore Gewessler said: “It will no longer be possible to offer tickets which are cheaper than the actual costs,” referring to the social and environmental impact of the industry.
Austrian Airlines will receive a 600-million-euro ($677 million) rescue package to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, the government said Monday, but also announced these new rules to make aviation more climate-friendly.
Austria will provide 450 million euros of the rescue package, with the rest coming from German giant Lufthansa, of which Austrian Airlines is a subsidiary, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said.
The Austrian government will guarantee 300 million euros in loans on top of a 150-million-euro grant, he added, confirming earlier media reports of the deal.
Kurz said the airlines and the government had agreed to three goals: saving jobs, maintaining Vienna as a key hub and “necessary measures in terms of climate protection”.
Prominent Green politicians such as Gewessler had made clear in recent weeks that they wanted any deal to come with conditions to reduce the environmental impact of aviation.
Gewessler said that the minimum price would mean “the end of one euro tickets”, adding that the measure would make Austria a European “pioneer”.
“I think this is what’s necessary for sustainable and fair aviation,” she said.
Later this month, Lufthansa is to ask shareholders to back a nine-billion-euro bailout deal negotiated with the German government, which will take a 20-percent stake in the group under the agreement.
Austrian Airlines’ fleet has been largely grounded for almost three months due to the restrictions introduced to fight the new coronavirus pandemic, which have devastated the international travel industry.
The airline plans to restart flights from June 15 to several European destinations and Tel Aviv.
Some long-distance services will be restarted in July, including to New York, Washington and Bangkok.
Austrian government would like any Austrian Airlines state bailout to be linked to climate targets and lower CO2 emissions in future
Austria’s environment minister has said that Coronavirus state aid for Austrian Airlines should support efforts to cut aviation’s carbon footprint, as the government negotiates with the firm’s German parent company, Lufthansa. Any aid should be used to cut carbon emissions, as it is public money, and needs to be used wisely. Austrian Airlines has grounded all planes. “When it is about an industry that particularly needs to contribute to climate protection, then it makes a lot of sense to use this situation to support this transformation,” the minister said. Europe’s airlines are struggling to keep their heads above water, as virus lockdown measures slash demand for air travel. According to the IATA, latest estimates are that global losses for the airline sector this year will nearly reach €300 billion. Airlines are trying to get state aid, to bail them out, hoping they can get back to being profitable as soon as possible. It is unclear what specific climate conditions could be written into a bailout deal but options reportedly include a pledge to reduce short-haul flights, increased cooperation with rail companies, more low carbon fuels [if they exist] and bigger tax contributions.