You have to give the transport industry one thing: they can do marketing. Of the particularly climate-damaging economic sectors, only transport has failed to reduce its CO2 emissions since 1990.
But that doesn’t stop the most important German mobility providers, Deutsche Bahn and Lufthansa, from posing as climate rescuers and eco-pioneers. So also this Monday. At the long-distance train station at Frankfurt Airport, Deutsche Bahn presented its new cooperation with the Star Alliance, which is dominated by Lufthansa.
Deutsche Bahn will take on feeder journeys to the international hub for the airline alliance. This should make domestic flights superfluous. The intermodal offer is a step in the right direction, just not really new.
It has been possible to travel to Frankfurt Airport on ICE trains with Lufthansa tickets since 2001 – from 24 German cities. Star Alliance partners have always been able to include these Lufthansa “flights” on the rails in their flight schedules. Now the railway itself becomes a member of the alliance. Not much else changes.
The “new” cooperation is therefore cheap symbolic politics. A credible step towards more climate protection would be cooperation if most German domestic flights were abolished at the same time.
Frankfurt Airport is perfectly located for shifting domestic German feeder traffic for transcontinental flights entirely to rail. Almost all German cities can be reached from the busy airport train station by ICE in three hours or less. This makes flights superfluous. Nevertheless, Lufthansa continues to fly passengers from Frankfurt to nearby cities such as Düsseldorf, Stuttgart and Nuremberg.
These 200-kilometer flights have long been outdated. Economically, the ultra-short routes are only worthwhile if they are exploited – of personnel and the environment. The fact that the airlines do not pay an energy tax on kerosene is an anachronism that is becoming more and more incomprehensible with each passing year. This is where politics comes into play, just as it does when it comes to rail expansion. With its poor performance, Deutsche Bahn unfortunately makes it easy for Lufthansa boss Carsten Spohr to insist on short-haul flights.
Nevertheless, many passengers have switched from domestic flights to the ICE in recent weeks because flights have been canceled due to a lack of staff. The airline bosses should learn from this: The personnel problems will hardly disappear in the next few years. And the era of financially favorable environmental destruction will soon be over. People should only get on planes if absolutely necessary. After the corona crisis, aviation must not continue as before.