August 2017 - Europe: Turbulence in the air transport market.
Air Berlin, the seventh largest airline in Europe, filed for insolvency on August 15, 2017 after its shareholder Etihad Airways has declined to support it further. Air Berlin has just received a three-month loan from the German federal authorities so that its flights won’t be interrupted in the peak holiday season.
Lufthansa, Eurowings and Condor want to take over various assets and routes from Air Berlin. This does not please Ryanair and Easyjet that are seeking to increase their market share in Germany.
Meanwhile, the low-cost airlines Norwegian, Wow Air and Eurowings are launching new low-cost long-haul flights (mainly transatlantic flights) and they offer connections between short/medium-haul and long-haul flights. Read more here.
December 20, 2016: Germany - Terrorist attack in Berlin.
On December 20, a truck was driven into the Christmas market at Breitscheidplatz in Berlin. 12 people were killed, at least 48 injured.
December 2016: Europe - Thalys.
As from December 13, Thalys offers discount rates for "mini-groups", i.e. groups of 3 to 5 adults. This cheap tariff is valid for a journey in second class (Comfort 2) between France, Belgium, Germany or the Netherlands. It comes in addition to discount rates for groups of 10 people and more and to other special rates such as the low cost offer IZY on the Paris-Brussels route and the new special fare for children under 12 years. In 2015, Thalys had already launched a TickUp rate for travellers who agree to form a group of 4 people on the Paris-Brussels route just like in case of carpooling.
December 2016: Germany - Motorway tolls.
With the agreement of the European Commission, Germany is planning to establish an annual motorway tax by the end of 2017. The amount of the vignette will vary according to the category of the car and its environmental impact. It may go up to 130 euros/1 year. For foreigners, the toll will apply only to the use of German motorways. Vignette will also be available for short periods of time (10 days or 2 months). Locals will also pay the toll, but they will receive a discount from the current tax.
July 2016: Europe - Flixbus buys the European network of Megabus.
Germany’s long-distance bus transport company Flixbus has bought all the activities of its competitor Megabus in continental Europe (France, Belgium, Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Germany) as well as its international services to and from the United Kingdom. Flixbus becomes then the number 1 coach company in Europe. Flixbus carried 20 million passengers by 2015 and serves currently 900 destinations.
Megabus, a subsidiary of the British group Stagecoach, retains its activities in the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States. In France, three companies share the market: Ouibus, Flixbus and Isilines. Ouibus, a subsidiary of SNCF, recently concluded a partnership agreement with Starshipper, which brings together various independent carriers.
Due to the low tariffs of coach services, several coach companies experienced losses. For that reason, several partners quitted recently the network of Flixbus in Germany
April 28, 2016: Germany - Restrictions to short term rentals.
From May 1, 2016, residents in Berlin won't be allowed to rent out a room or a house for short stays, for example through the Airbnb website, without a permit from the municipality. This measure aims to alleviate the housing shortage and unfair competition with hotels in Berlin.
Other major tourist cities face the same issues. In Paris, individuals may rent out their apartment for only up to four months a year when it is their main residence. Also since October 1, 2015, Airbnb collects tourist tax from the concerned owners on behalf of the municipality of Paris.
March 21, 2016: Germany – High-speed trains from and to Paris.
The French high-speed train Thalys, which, under the name of Rhein-Ruhr-Express, already links Paris to the German cities of Aachen, Cologne, Düsseldorf, Duisburg and Essen via Brussels and Liège, serves also the city of Dortmund. There are 3 daily return journeys for Dortmund and 5 for Aachen and Cologne. The journey to Dortmund lasts 4h41 from Paris and 3h08 departing from Brussels.
November 2015: Germany - Lufthansa, new projects and strike.
-- Early November, Lufthansa announced that the medium-haul flights of Germanwings (its subsidiary, a plane of which crashed in the Alps in March) will be taken over by another subsidiary, Eurowings, and that the latter will embark on long-haul low-cost flights, starting among others with flights from Cologne to Dubai, Thailand, Florida and Mauritius.
-- Lufthansa agrees to sell the 13% stake it holds in the capital of Luxair, the Luxembourg airline. The Luxembourg State will buy these shares.
-- Mid-November 2015, a strike of Lufthansa flight attendants forced the German airline to cancel daily hundreds of flights. The strike is planned for a whole week.
September 2015: Switzerland, Germany, and Belgium - New airport check-in option.
The Swiss Airline gives its passengers the opportunity to print the luggage tag at home before arriving at the airport. The facility, already available for departures from Geneva, is now also allowed for departures from Zurich. It enables passengers to avoid queues.
Other airlines in the world are planning to offer the same option. Brussels Airlines is testing this option for flights to Madrid, New York and Washington from Brussels and Lufthansa for flights to Tokyo and Sao Paulo from Frankfurt.
September 1, 2015: Germany - extra charge of € 16 ($ 17.50) on any Lufthansa air ticket sold through an agency.
As announced last June, the German airline Lufthansa and its subsidiaries (including Brussels Airlines, Swiss International Airlines and Austrian Airlines) charge an extra fee of € 16 on any air ticket found and booked through a travel agency on a GDS system as from September 1, 2015. That extra fee won't be refunded if the flight is cancelled.
With this measure, Lufthansa wants to restore its profit margin. Reservations through a GDS (Amadeus, Sabre or Travelport) system used by online and physical travel agencies cost an average of € 18 per ticket while a direct booking on Lufthansa web sites costs only € 2. About 70 percent of Lufthansa sales currently pass through an agency. GDS systems help agencies compare air tickets and find the cheapest deals.
August 2015: Germany - Munich Airport.
As part of a pilot project, Munich Airport allows passengers arriving at Terminal 2 to order and carry fresh food. This can be useful for travelers who return home after a long absence, without fresh food in their fridge.