Readers who saw our recent piece on low-cost carriers in Germany will not be surprised by this news.

According to a report in, departure taxes at Germany’s airports will be raised substantially when the move is signed off this week.

It’s all part of Germany’s “climate package” intended to meet the country’s emissions target (although the taxes remain less than the UK’s Air Passenger Duty).

The higher taxes (as much as 60 per cent in one case) are expected to raise up to €740 million, which will then be used to lower VAT on rail fares from 19 per cent to seven per cent.

Note that unlike the UK, Germany imposes VAT on rail travel and I understand the rate varies depending on whether local or long distance.

The government hopes more travellers will take the train rather than the plane.

If approved, the new rates will be:

  • €13.03 for flights up to 2,500 kms
  • €33.01 for flights up to 6,000 kms
  • €59.43 for the longest flights

Germany is not alone. In mainland Europe, short-haul flying is falling from favour given today’s growing environmental awareness.

High-speed (HS) rail is covering more routes and we are seeing the return of night sleeper trains on a number of routes.

France’s SNCF has dropped most sleeper trains, Germany’s DB scrapped them all but in recent years Austria’s ÖBB has come to the rescue and plans to extend the network further.

Austria rescues Germany’s overnight trains

Railway Gazette reports that ÖBB wants to run Nightjet from Vienna to both Amsterdam and Brussels in 2020.

And then we have KLM of the Netherlands with its Fly Responsibly campaign, which will be extended to the Amsterdam-Brussels route in 2020.

In an about-turn, the Netherlands wants to reintroduce its aviation departure taxes in 2021.

Readers may remember these taxes were introduced in 2008. But they were unpopular with travellers and the taxes were dropped one year later.

Finally, two points to note:

  • No date is available for the introduction of the higher taxes at German airports;
  • These higher taxes ought not apply to transit passengers. That’s the current situation in Germany (and is the case with the UK and the Netherlands – when the latter imposed taxes).