Budget petrol station businessman eyes Vienna, reports say

Alarm bells are ringing at petrol stations across Vienna as a canny Salzburg businessman is reported to have plans to open a budget station later this month.Business dailies report today (Thurs) Markus Friesacher considered taking his Salzburg success story to the federal capital. The entrepreneur’s Hofer stations caused a stir – and kilometre-long tailbacks – when they opened with prices as low as 52 cents per litre in the province of Salzburg last year.The shop-free stations are run without staff, but customers – who have to pay via credit card or bank card – can call a free of charge help line anytime if they have problems or questions fuelling their vehicles.Friesacher – who in the meantime also entered the provinces of Lower Austria and Upper Austria – cooperates with discount supermarket Hofer, a subsidiary of German foodstuff giant Aldi.The businessman refused to comment on claims he planned to take over petrol stations in Vienna or open new ones.Debate whether Austria should increase taxes on mineral oil products are meanwhile dragging on.Critics claimed Social Democratic (SPÖ) Traffic Minister Doris Bures tried to avoid enraging potential voters by remaining tight-lipped on the issue, while several economic think tanks stressed Austria should consider introducing higher taxes on mineral oil.Research has shown that car fuel costs an average 1.21 Euros in Austria, while the European average was 1.25 Euros. Car petrol is more expensive in all of the country’s seven neighbouring states, tempting hundreds of thousands of drivers to cross the border just to fuel their vehicles in Austria.Austrian motorists’ associations Arbö and ÖAMTC appealed to Bures not to raise taxes charged on mineral oil products to ensure the “fuel tourism” did not come to an end. They claimed Austria will rake in fewer taxes, rather then more, if the government decides to up car fuel taxes.