Aviation crisis: How Corona makes regional airports more expensive


Kassel-Calden, Erfurt, Paderborn: Most regional airports only survive thanks to tax money grants worth millions. The corona crisis has made the situation even worse.

By Marcus Pfeiffer, HR

For short-haul flights: to enable this luxury, Germany has a dense network of fully equipped regional airports. But that has its price: The high costs for personnel, fire brigade and air traffic control are offset by only low income from flight operations.

100 million euros in tax money

The result: high deficits, which are usually offset with taxpayers’ money from the municipalities and federal states involved. “In 2018 alone, 100 million euros in tax money flowed into the regional airports,” says Matthias Warneke from the Taxpayers Association.

And the corona lull now makes everything even more expensive, like HR research show: The airports that were kept alive with the most tax money even before Corona were hit hardest.

650 euros per passenger in Kassel-Calden

Take Kassel-Calden, for example: Originally, it was calculated with 650,000 passengers for 2020. But after 120,000 passengers last year, there have been just 27,000 passengers from January to October of this year due to Corona.

With taxpayer costs of around 18 million euros, each previous passenger has been subsidized with around 650 euros in tax money this year. In return, all Kassel passengers could be given an additional return ticket to Los Angeles.

Experts call for reform

The situation is similar in Erfurt and Paderborn, although both airports are doing everything they can to reduce costs: each of the 27,000 passengers flown in Erfurt cost taxpayers more than 145 euros. And in Paderborn the subsidy requirement for the previous 91,800 passengers was 50 euros, around ten times as high as before.

“It takes two to three million passengers to run an airport economically,” says Deutsche Bank analyst Eric Heymann. And because there won’t be any after Corona, he is calling for a nationwide reform of the regional airport network.

Transport Minister Scheuer for new grants

A demand that economist Warneke from the taxpayers’ association also supports: “The federal government should act as a moderator so that there is a nationwide location concept – with fewer regional airports and more economical airports.”

But Federal Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer does not want to know anything about this at the moment: “Even if an airport has been in the red for a long time, it has structural and political significance,” said the CSU politician. That’s why he negotiated an aid package for the industry with Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz.

A billion euro aid package planned

According to media reports, it is about one billion euros: One half should come from the federal government, which has a stake in Berlin, Cologne / Bonn and Munich airports and is responsible for German air traffic control. The other half will be contributed by the federal states and municipalities, which are also originally responsible for the local airports. Aid packages that have already been announced should be taken into account in the aid.

The Federal Association of the German Aviation Industry (BDL) welcomes the plans of the Federal Government that the federal government is building bridges to “avoid irreparable structural breaks in the German air traffic system”. Criticism, however, comes from the opposition from the Greens. Scheuer and Scholz set “wrong priorities”. Such a package is an irresponsible handling of tax money, according to the taxpayers’ association.

More about this today in the ARD magazine Plusminus at 9:45 p.m. in the first.

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