Higher taxes on approach ?: Merkel supports air traffic at the Leipzig Conference
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Leipzig / Berlin (AP) - The Chancellor meets in the Leipzig airport hangar of DHL exactly the sound that many in the aviation industry have expected from her.
"We do not want forced restrictions on our mobility," says Angela Merkel, beginning to formulate her related demands on the aviation industry.
There is increasing criticism of the issue of air traffic, notes the head of government in times of "Fridays for Future". "It is all the more important that the industry can show that growth is not always associated with more growth of climate-damaging emissions." It must be achieved a decoupling.
While Greenpeace, the BUND and aircraft noise opponents demand clear restrictions on air traffic, industry and government want to bring the public a way to climate-friendly air traffic with their "Leipzig Declaration". "We are in a debt to organize the air transport sustainable," says the President of the Airport Association ADV, Stefan Schulte. "Who, if not us, could do it." Merkel points to 850 000 jobs and the importance of the sector for the export nation.
Before the DHL hangar, however, only the first tender approaches of an emission-free future are to be seen, which are now to be promoted more strongly. In the "Do 228 Electric Flight Demonstrator" twin-engine aircraft, the German Aerospace Center (DLR) intends to test various alternative propulsion systems: first a battery-powered electric motor, a medium-term gas turbine for ongoing power production and finally an engine with synthetic fuels. Most important problem with the battery: Comparable energy currently requires 70 times the weight and volume of kerosene - space that is not available in any commercial aircraft.
"In the long term, we can not do without hydrocarbons on long-haul routes," says Airbus Manager and President of the Federal Association of the German Aerospace Industry, Klaus Richter. Where fossil kerosene is still being burned today, synthetic fuel could soon also be used, produced with green electricity through hydrogen dialysis. Additives to fossil kerosene have long been tested and approved.
The problem: So far, only very small quantities of climate-neutral fuel are available at even very high prices even worldwide. Merkel does not challenge that: "It was the case with every technology that it's expensive in the beginning." Manfred Aigner, director of the DLR Institute for Combustion Technology, warns patience: "It will certainly take another ten years for the industrial production of many tons of climate-neutral kerosene."
Germany intends to launch an industrial policy initiative during the forthcoming EU Presidency and, in addition, to make a new attempt to create a unified airspace over Europe. "Because passenger aircraft in Europe have to make detours, they consume up to 10 percent more kerosene, and the implementation of a Single European Sky would be a real climate protection measure," complains Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr like many of his fellow airlines.
Federal Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer intends to invest the full amount of aviation tax of around one billion euros per year purposefully in research into the new aviation technologies. So far, the money has flowed into the federal budget without earmarking, Scheuer must enforce its much lower funding with the Minister of Finance.
In this context, the CSU politician even thinks about a higher ticket tax, to which the industry could be ready if more money flows into Aero research. As fields scouring called synthetic fuels, engine technology or aerodynamics. Spohr responded critically. The question was how much more inequality could the German aviation industry tolerate in international competition: "One has to pay, the other does not."
Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier also signaled support for the proposal to use aviation tax revenues for climate protection. "We have to do much more in the future," said the CDU politician - but said at the same time: "The Minister of Finance is sitting on the cash register."
The airlines are putting their hopes in green and publicly funded fuel: "If we really succeed in supporting the development of sustainable fuels through existing aviation tax revenues, then we can make an important contribution to climate-neutral flying," said the CEO of Tuifly, Oliver Lackmann.
Trade unionists Christine Behle (Verdi) and Jörg Hofmann (IG Metall warned the industry not to lose sight of the social aspects of aviation alongside technology: Fair working conditions were also important for the social acceptance of the industry, the metalworker warned Hofmann: "A ticket price of € 9.90 does not cover taxes or fees, and it has to be clear to everyone that the employees pay the price," said Verdi board member Behle.
National Aviation Conference 2019