Competitors such as FlixTrain, Lufthansa and Sixt are benefiting from the longest strike in the history of Deutsche Bahn. They plan for additional capacity – but this also costs travelers more money.
“Monster strike”, “XXL strike”, “absurd strike” – there are many superlatives in the media for the longest strike in the history of Deutsche Bahn. The train drivers of the GDL union have been on strike since Wednesday morning, as planned for a total of six days until Monday evening.
The majority of trains in Germany are therefore at a standstill – but not all of them. Because the provider FlixTrain runs according to plan and, as a direct competitor to the railway, is happy about increasing demand. Numerous other companies also benefit from the train drivers’ walkout. Customers often have to pay more for rail alternatives.
According to FlixTrain, demand is currently around twice as high as on comparable days without a strike. Tickets are particularly popular in the metropolises of Berlin, Munich, Hamburg and Frankfurt am Main. In addition, you are always able to use additional Flix buses on high-demand connections, says Flix spokesman Sebastian Meyer to “Capital”.
However, travelers have to shell out significantly more for a ticket than usual. Prices for the next few days are currently around 60 euros per ticket. Development depends on supply and demand. “Like most airlines, we use a dynamic pricing system – so as the utilization of the trips increases, the prices also rise,” says Meyer. “The earlier travelers book, the cheaper the trip is.”
Booking record at Eurowings, more flights at Lufthansa
The rail strike even brings booking records for the Lufthansa subsidiary Eurowings. “Eurowings is currently recording its highest bookings in more than four years,” said a spokesman for the Reuters news agency. “We are noticing a sharp increase in demand, particularly on routes within Germany.” Eurowings is therefore examining the use of larger aircraft.
The parent company Lufthansa, the largest German airline, is already using larger aircraft on many domestic German flight connections due to the additional bookings. “On Tuesday, in preparation for the strike, we equipped 18 outbound and return flights with larger aircraft,” says Lufthansa spokesman Michael Lamberty to “Capital”.
For example, the routes from the Frankfurt am Main hub to Berlin, Hamburg and Düsseldorf have been switched to the Airbus A321 – the largest model in the A320 family with up to 200 seats. A larger machine was also brought in at short notice today for the route from Frankfurt to Munich. “We continue to monitor how booking behavior develops and try to use larger aircraft if necessary,” says Lamberty.
However, not only are the booking numbers with the airlines increasing, but also the ticket prices: flights from Berlin to Düsseldorf will cost at least 170 euros next Friday, and to Munich around 230 euros. From Munich to Hamburg you even have to pay 330 euros. On Friday in two weeks the prices will be below 100 euros again or 120 euros for the Munich-Hamburg connection.
More taxi rides on short distances
Those who want to go to the airport often prefer to take a taxi during strike times. Some taxi centers reported that they often drove unsettled customers to the airport during strikes. Overall, taxis tend to replace shorter distances. “We expect stronger regional effects in Berlin, where the S-Bahn is also affected by the strike, and in North Rhine-Westphalia, where the centers are very close to each other and are also suitable for a taxi ride,” says Michael Oppermann to “Capital”. He is managing director of the Federal Association of Taxi and Rental Cars
Depending on the time of day and regional impact, the number of trips could increase by five to 25 percent. “We try to meet all customer requests and keep prices stable. There is no strike surcharge for taxis.”
Car rental company Sixt: “Significantly increased demand”
The provider Billiger-Mietwagen.de is currently advertising its car sharing and rental car offerings with the slogan “Bye, bye Bahnsinn, Hello Carsharing”. All major car rental companies are expecting increased demand, especially at hubs.
“We are currently observing a significantly increased demand nationwide this week,” said a spokesman for the car rental company Sixt “Capital”. The listed company is represented in Germany with 350 stations. “Experience shows that the availability of rental cars develops very dynamically during strikes in rail transport.” Sixt shares reacted to the strike and temporarily jumped to 96 euros, but then settled back down to around 93 euros. Avis shares have now risen by more than eight percent.
The rental company Europcar, which has more than 300 stations, also assumes that many customers will reschedule and that cars will become available again through cancellations. Although numerous bookings were received for Wednesday, availability would look good again across Germany from Thursday, said Germany Managing Director Tobias Zisik.
578 euros: record price for a rental car
When it comes to prices, rental car users have to dig a lot deeper into their pockets than usual. The cost of rental cars depends on several factors. But according to the comparison portal Billiger-Mietwagen.de, prices on some routes almost doubled: a rental car for the Hamburg-Munich route could still be booked for 89 euros on Monday, and on Tuesday it cost 183 euros – both times for pickup on Thursday. From Cologne to Munich the price increased from 98 to 160 euros, for Berlin-Munich from 97 to 182 euros.
There are also individual offers at top prices on the comparison portal Check24 on Wednesday: a VW Golf rental car from Hamburg for one day from the provider “OK Mobility” should cost an impressive 578.37 euros. These are outliers, but they show how expensive rail alternatives can be in case of doubt. In Berlin and Stuttgart there are no longer any rental cars available at short notice, in Munich and Frankfurt there are still some offers starting at 150 euros per day.
This article appeared first which, like stern, is part of RTL Deutschland.