Tui Group chief criticises German government over aviation polices

Tui Group chief executive Sebastian Ebel hit out at the German government over its policies toward aviation and demanded EU regulators “get a grip” on online travel platforms when he addressed Tui’s annual general meeting last week.

Ebel lashed out at “regulatory madness and bureaucracy”, saying they “rob companies of growth”, and told shareholders: “Nobody can be satisfied with the regulatory framework in Germany and in Europe.”

He slammed the German government’s decision in January to increase the tax on air tickets, describing it as “rash” and suggesting: “What characterised Germany for decades was stability and reliability.”

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Ebel noted “the recovery in air traffic in Germany is lagging many countries” and said the increase in air tax “was announced when air tickets are already booked”.

The tax on short-haul flights, including to the UK, is due to rise from €13 per passenger to €15.50 from May and the long-haul rate from €58 to €71, with the mid-haul rate of €32 also rising. Like UK Air Passenger Duty, the tax is levied on departure and added to fares.

Ebel also criticised the government for “turning away” from support for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). He noted the government had pledged €2 billion to support SAF development but had reduced the aid to €17 million and suggested: “It would be more honest just to cancel this support.”

The Tui chief also urged the EC to switch the focus of its proposed changes to the Package Travel Directive, saying: “Instead of regulating highly regulated tour operators even further, regulators should get a grip on intermediary platforms. They do not support customers. Pure intermediaries do not offer the support of package operators and travel agencies.”

He demanded “clarity and a level playing field”, arguing: “Platforms that only act as intermediaries have an advantage.”

Tui shareholders voted overwhelmingly (98%) to delist the company from the London Stock Exchange, ending the dual listing in London and Frankfurt it has had since 2014. Tui shares will in future be traded solely on Frankfurt’s mid-size company index.

Chief financial officer Mathias Kiep said: “Trading in Tui shares had already shifted to Germany to a large extent. The advantages of a main listing in Frankfurt are obvious. The structures are simplified, liquidity is centralised in one trading venue and the simplified structure supports EU requirements for ownership and control of our airlines. Nevertheless, the UK market remains one of our core activities and this has no impact on our strategy.”

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