New in 2011: flight taxes

Departures Board at Frankfurt Airport - ©Can Stock Photo Inc. / AlexTThis summer the German Government introduced a new tax of flight tickets. It is called the Luftverkehrsabgabe, and means that passengers have to pay between 8 and 45 Euros per flight and applies to all commercial passenger flights that take-off at German airports from 1st Januar, 2011.

Just to make sure that people did not start booking their flights for next year early, the tax came into force on 1st September this year, so that it would be levied on any tickets purchased from that date onwards for flights in 2011.

One of the results has been that Ryanair have announced that they will be reducing the number of their flights from German airports, including Frankfurt-Hahn, which will be a blow to the economy on the rural parts of the country where such airports are located.  Some estimates put the number of jobs that will be lost at around 3000.

But with less flights taking off, surely the revenue from other taxes will go down as well?  Will the new tax have any effect, other than to reduce the choice of German travellers and push up prices?


Frankfurt-Hahn Airport

One of the questions that frequently comes up when talking to people who want to come to Germany is “where is Frankfurt-Hahn”?

Hahn is in an area of Germany called the Hunsrück, and is 126km by road from Frankfurt itself. Hahn used to be an American Airforce base, but for a number of years has now been used by budget-airlines such as Ryanair.

It takes about 90 minutes to get to Frankfurt city centre by car, but when travelling to Hahn by car allow plenty of entry time as the motorway from Mainz to Koblenz can get very busy, expecially on a Friday evening.

There is also a bus transfer to Frankfurt for the airport which takes about 1h 45min – see their homepage for details of times and costs.

Most people either travel through Hahn and continue to their final destination, often via Frankfurt. If, however, you would like to see more of the area then you could consider taking of the buses to the nearby towns. You may also like to do this if you have a long wait in Hahn, but be aware that the buses are often Bedarfsfahrten, ie. they only run when necessary, so be prepared to have to take a taxi back to the airport if necessary. This area of Germany is very sparesly populated, so the taxi may be coming from another town to collect you. Book in good time!

This is wine-growing country and you can get excellent wines in the area, sometimes at a fraction of the price that they would cost elsewhere in Germany.

My favourite places to visit are Alf and Cochem. Both are on the river Mosel.

Alf is 21km from Hahn and there are cruises on the river starting there. I can personally recommend the Ristorante Pizzeria Italia in the Koblenzer Straße and the Eiscafe Acquario in the Brückenstrasse. Buses to Alf are signed as “Bullay”.

Cochem is 41km from Hahn and you should plan the good part of a day to see it all. It has a lovely castle overlooking the river and is on the border between the areas “Mosel” and “Hunsrück”. There are tours around the castle, and the old town is almost traffic-free. There are lots of cafés at the waterfront and places to buy local wines near the town square.

If you are planning on travelling further into Germany, then you will probably want to catch a train to your final destination. Apart from the shuttle bus to Frankfurt, there are other buses to Mainz, Koblenz and even Cologne. Check the Deutsche Bahn homepage for details of further connections from there.

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