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Long-haul travelers will bear more of the brunt of an air
departure tax voted through by the German cabinet Wednesday than was originally
thought. Last month, a widely leaked draft of the legislation said the levy
would be €13 for journeys of up to 2,550 kilometers and €26 on flights above
that limit. However, today's final regulation has revised the scheme to €8 for
flights within Europe, €25 to medium-haul destinations and €45 to long-haul
The tax will apply to all departures starting Jan. 1, but,
in another surprise move, the German government announced that it immediately
would levy the tax on all post-Dec. 31 bookings. Finance minister Wolfgang
Schaeuble said the tax is being implemented without delay to avoid a rush of
bookings aimed at pre-empting the tax.
German chancellor Angela Merkel first gave notice of the tax in June. It is part of an €80 billion austerity package of revenue-raising
measures and spending cuts. Lufthansa headed a queue of air industry companies
and organizations criticizing the move on Wednesday.
"We are against it because it is only applied on a
national level," a Lufthansa spokesman told BTN. "It will significantly weaken Germany as an air traffic
hub and therefore distort competition. As we are the largest German carrier, it
will hit us especially hard. The relation of tax to distance will hurt us as an
exporting nation and benefit foreign airlines and airports."
Not everyone will necessarily agree with Lufthansa's
analysis of who will be hurt most. The tax does not apply to transfer traffic,
which will give significant protection to the German flag carrier's international
hubs at Frankfurt and Munich.
The German airline association BDF claimed that the tax
would cost Germany five million passengers per year and 10,000 jobs.