Ticket tax to shrink Air Berlin fleet

FlyNiki partner Air Berlin has revealed plans to diminish its capacities.The company – Germany’s second-biggest airline after Lufthansa – said today (Thurs) it planned to reduce its fleet by seven planes in the near future as a reaction to upcoming taxes on tickets imposed by the German government.The coalition of the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) and the Free Democratic Party (FDP) recently agreed to charge every ticket for a flight departing from Germany with eight to 45 Euros depending on their destinations from 2011.The Austrian government of Social Democrats (SPÖ) and the People’s Party (ÖVP) decided to introduce a similar regulation from April 2011.Air Berlin said it would try to avoid passing on extra costs to its customers by reducing the number of jets in operation. The company, which recorded 3.49 million passengers last month, refused to give an outlook on the expenses it expected from the upcoming levy.The airline started cooperating with FlyNiki in 2004. It currently holds a 49.9 per cent interest with an option for a total takeover of the Vienna-based low cost carrier headed by Niki Lauda.Lauda recently branded the upcoming Austrian flight ticket tax as “incredibly unfair”. The businessman warned he considered relocating from Vienna International Airport (VIA) to Milan Rastislav Stefanik Airport in Slovakian capital Bratislava.The three-time Formula One (F1) world champion said he feared the levy could slash his firm’s annual turnover by 10 million Euros.Austrian Airlines (AUA) owner Lufthansa also hit out at political leaders in Germany and Austria over their decision to set up taxes on tickets.