With the completion of the expansion of the southern railway line, Graz and Klagenfurt airports are threatened with the same fate, Ofner warned on Friday at a press conference in Vienna.
According to an evaluation study by Höffinger Solutions commissioned by the WKÖ aviation professional group, the Salzburg-Vienna block had the effect that a large proportion of passengers drove to Munich Airport or switched to other hub airports such as Frankfurt via Salzburg Airport. The press spokesman for Salzburg Airport, Alexander Klaus, states that over 90 percent of the passengers to Vienna were transfer passengers. Munich Airport has become much more attractive compared to Schwechat, especially for business travelers, after the Vienna connection was discontinued. The reason for this is also the inadequate offering from the rail industry, which makes it not possible to catch the attractive flights in the morning, says Klaus.
Wolfgang Grimus, managing director of Graz Airport, fears something similar for his location. Almost all passengers from Graz would currently only change trains in Vienna and would not have Vienna as their destination. A large part of the added value would be relocated abroad if the flight route between Vienna and Graz were to be discontinued.
“More than questionable”
The study author Stefan Höffinger describes the usefulness of such flight bans as “more than questionable” and sees the regional feeder airports as the losers of the measure. Furthermore, the railway does not benefit as expected. When it comes to the impact on the climate, Ofner says that a ban on flights within Austria would achieve “nothing at all”. According to a study by Greenpeace, which found that 80 percent of Austrian domestic flights could be replaced by rail, Höffinger counters that the canceled flights would now simply take place somewhere else. The environmental protection organization counters in a statement that one plane from Vienna to Salzburg is as harmful to the climate as 14 railjets.
As a proposed solution, Ofner proposes the promotion of alternative fuels, which are intended to make aviation more environmentally friendly as a replacement for petroleum-based kerosene. “All stakeholders” would want this and the technology for it has already been invented.