Fewer delays, but also no more 9.99 euro tickets: Here's how the aviation industry wants to change flying

  • The German Air Transport Association (BDL) has formulated positions to politicians that also mean changes for passengers.
  • If the measures were implemented, aircraft would be less delayed, and waiting times at security checks would be reduced.
  • But it would also mean the end of the €9.99 ticket – because the BDL wants a minimum price for airline tickets.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

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The German Air Transport Association (BDL) has formulated demands to politicians in a open letter so that the industry can grow again after the Corona crisis. The association represents the interests of airlines, airports and their service providers, and air traffic control.

Fair competitive conditions, new laws, and airport infrastructure all play a role in the paper – as does a surprising amount of climate protection. Business Insider explains what the BDL’s demands could mean for passengers in the coming years.

Fewer delays

If a flight is delayed by more than three hours, passengers are entitled to financial compensation of between 250 and 600 euros. This is laid down in the EU Passenger Rights Regulation – and the BDL would like to see it reformed. On the one hand, so that passengers and airlines have more legal certainty. At the moment, there is no money back if the airline makes it clear that “extraordinary circumstances” led to the delay. In case of doubt, however, courts decide what these circumstances are – and the decisions vary. Strikes, for example, were still considered an extraordinary circumstance a few years ago – after Lufthansa went on strike so often, that is no longer the case in every ruling today.

The BDL has another problem with the regulation: If a flight from Mallorca to Hanover, for example, has to be canceled for technical reasons, the airline is not necessarily motivated today to organize a replacement flight, because it would not manage to transport the passengers back on a replacement aircraft in the given three hours anyway. So it has to pay compensation either way – and, in case of doubt, transport the passengers the next day on the next scheduled plane.

The BDL believes that many people would rather go home or on vacation as scheduled than collect compensation. That is why the association supports a proposal by the EU Commission that compensation should only have to be paid after five hours. In that time, it would be more realistic to operate with replacement aircraft.

Another possibility for fewer delays would be a more efficient use of airspace. Even before the Corona pandemic, European airspace was full – sometimes too full, and aircraft sometimes had to wait hours for clearance to take off. The BDL would like the German government to commit itself to further developing the “Single European Sky” – a joint project for optimizing the airspace over Europe. If detours are reduced, not only will delays be avoided, but aircraft will also travel with less impact on the climate.

Fewer domestic flights in Germany

In 2019, before the pandemic, around 23 million people flew within Germany. The BDL sees potential to transfer up to a fifth of these guests to rail – and thus further reduce climate-damaging emissions. However, this is only possible under three conditions: One condition is that rail travelers reach their destination in under three hours. This has already been achieved on the route between Berlin and Nuremberg. The BDL is also calling for improvements in luggage transport – especially for passengers flying on from the Frankfurt or Munich hubs. The third condition is connection security: In the BDL’s view, the question of who will compensate passengers if, for example, a train is canceled or comes to a standstill and passengers consequently miss their connecting flight, must be clarified.

Better infrastructure at airports

Before the pandemic, Germany’s major airports were at times too full: Berlin-Tegel was bursting at the seams, security checks at Frankfurt Airport were considered poorly organized; only in Munich, with a few exceptions, did travelers have the reliability to get through security in a reasonable amount of time.

To ensure that this does not happen again, the BDL is calling for a far-sighted policy in cooperation with authorities, airports, and airlines. By optimizing technology and procedures, passengers should once again be able to rely on not having to travel to the airport three hours in advance in order to make it to boarding on time.

No more extremely cheap tickets

There are airlines that lure passengers with real bargains: 9.99 euros for a flight to London – this is part of the business model in some places, but it is more a marketing measure than cost recovery. The BDL wants anti-dumping regulations, as is common in other industries, and is calling on the government to lobby for EU regulation to prevent dumping prices for airline tickets. The idea is to set a minimum price that includes taxes, surcharges, fees, and airport charges. Since the German air traffic tax alone already costs 12.90 euros for short-haul flights, 9.99-euro tickets would finally become a thing of the past. The BDL is right because the investments that the industry has to make in order to become more climate-friendly are enormous.

Many of the BDL’s demands go hand in hand with more comfort for passengers. The word “climate” is also mentioned surprisingly often – but in view of the current political situation, this is only logical. Even though the Corona crisis is overshadowing everything at the moment, terms such as “flight shame” will be discussed more intensively again in the period after the pandemic. BDL and its members are preparing for this.

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