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05 June 2013
In March 2013 the pilots' union Cockpit, with the support of the Unified Service Sector Union and the Independent Flight Attendants' Organisation, lodged a petition with Parliament regarding the abolition of air traffic tax, which was introduced on January 1 2011.
The petition was successful, exceeding the required minimum 50,000 supporters with over 90,000 signatures.
The petition (40789) was lodged on March 19 2013 and was open for signature until May 7 2013. The petitioner requested that Parliament abolish the air traffic tax.
In Germany, the right to bring a petition is stipulated in Article 17 of the Constitution. Parliament has a special petition committee. If within four weeks of receipt (or in case of public petitions, within four weeks of online publication) a petition is supported by 50,000 people or more, Parliament's Petition Committee will usually debate the petition publicly, with the petitioner invited to the debate and given the right to speak. However, achieving the quorum does not lead automatically to public debate of the petition, because members of Parliament who form part of the Petition Committee can decide against a public debate by a two-thirds majority.
The petition stated that since 2011, airlines have been forced to pay air traffic tax per passenger. This has led to passengers avoiding Germany and German airlines being blocked out in border regions. Further, as a result of the extremely competitive environment (including competition with airlines which are based in non-EU countries and are hardly affected by the tax), airlines cannot pass the entire air traffic tax onto passengers.
The petition states that approximately 60% of the tax must be paid by six German airlines, whereas over 100 foreign airlines must contribute approximately 40% of the tax only. The introduction of the tax has been financially damaging for the German aviation industry. Efforts to protect the environment are also hampered because airlines lose a significant amount of the capital required to invest in less noisy and more efficient aircraft.
In addition, the petition states that the tax wipes out jobs and prosperity.
The petition calls on Parliament to advocate the abolition of the tax as quickly as possible, in order to limit further damage to the German aviation sector and the German economy as a whole, as well as to prevent resulting job cuts.
As the required quorum was achieved, the Petition Committee may schedule a public debate on the petition. In that case, the petitioner will be invited to the public debate and will enjoy the opportunity to speak before the petition committee.
The success of the petition is extremely important for Germany's airline industry. Air traffic tax, which is levied on every ticket, has led to a significant distortion of competition, to the detriment of German airlines and airports, which is why trade unions and the aviation industry are pulling in the same direction regarding its abolition. It will be interesting to see how this hot topic develops throughout 2013.
For further information on this topic please contact Katharina Sarah Meigel or Ulrich Steppler at Arnecke Siebold Rechtsanwälte by telephone (+49 69 97 98 85 0), fax (+49 69 97 98 85 85) or email (email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org).
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