Ryanair to axe Frankfurt – Vienna link

Ryanair announced today (Weds) it will stop operating flights between Frankfurt and Klagenfurt from next March.The Irish no frills airline explained its decision to axe the route connecting the German city and the Carinthian capital as a reaction to the German government’s decision to levy a tax of eight Euros on tickets for flights from Germany to another European country.The Dublin-based aviation firm also announced it will reduce its activity at Frankfurt’s Hahn Airport by 30 per cent in 2011.The airline currently operates between Frankfurt and Klagenfurt on Mondays and Thursdays.”We oppose a tax on flight tickets and appeal to the Austrian government not to follow the German example,” Ryanair said.The Austrian coalition government of Social Democrats (SPÖ) and the People’s Party (ÖVP) announced last week it would charge every ticket for a flight from Austria to another European country with eight Euros and outside the continent with 40 Euros from next year.The tax will be just one aspect of a vast cost-cutting programme featuring several higher tax rates set to come into effect from next year as the SPÖ and ÖVP vowed to reduce the budget deficit – which reached 3.9 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) last year – to below three per cent by 2010.FlyNiki chief Niki Lauda called the planned flight ticket tax “incredibly unfair and an anti-social madness”. The three-time Formula One champion also claimed the levy will slash his company’s annual turnover by 10 million Euros.The SPÖ-ÖVP coalition said it hoped to rake in an extra 60 million Euros a year with the flight ticket tax. Lauda, however, expressed certain doubts.”It will probably be just 40 million Euros. This sum would be a joke for the annual state budget,” he said.Ryanair’s announcement to axe its Frankfurt – Klagenfurt link comes shortly after Austrian Airlines (AUA) made clear it would not pull out from abandoning its early morning connection between Klagenfurt and Austrian capital Vienna.AUA – which was taken over by German aviation firm Lufthansa in 2009 – said earlier this year it would stop operating its 6am flight from the Carinthian city’s airport to Vienna International Airport (VIA) as of next month.AUA argued the early flight had not been profitable. The earliest connection in the day between the cities located 330 kilometres apart will take off at 8am from next month, it explained.Reinhard Iro, a representative of the Carinthian department of the Federal Economy Chamber (WKO) warned that entrepreneurs based in the southern province would face serious difficulties in their business activities.”The flight made it possible to arrange meetings starting at 8am in Vienna. Businessmen were able to organise their workday economically,” he said.AUA reacted to his statement by stressing it had no plans to take back previously agreed reforms of its schedule of connections – which includes stopping the 6am flight from Klagenfurt to Vienna.