Do domestic flights make sense in Germany?
Whether domestic flights make sense in Germany depends on the context of the question—specifically, the criteria by which “sense” is defined. Here are some factors to consider:
Germany is a relatively small country by global standards, with many of its major cities relatively close to each other. This means that train and car travel can often be competitive with air travel in terms of time, especially when you factor in the time to get to the airport, security checks, boarding, and disembarking.
Efficiency of Ground Transport:
Germany has one of the best and most efficient train networks in the world. The Deutsche Bahn’s high-speed train, the ICE (Intercity-Express), can travel between major cities like Berlin and Frankfurt in about 4 hours, often less. For many travelers, the convenience and comfort of the train make it preferable to flying.
Air travel is a significant contributor to CO2 emissions. Given the global push towards reducing carbon footprints, there’s a growing argument against short-haul flights in places where alternatives like trains are available. Germany has a strong environmental movement, and there are frequent discussions about the environmental impact of domestic flights.
Airports bring business and jobs to regions, and domestic flights can contribute to regional development. However, the true economic benefit needs to be weighed against environmental costs and the potential for investing in alternative forms of transportation.
Convenience for Remote Areas:
While major cities in Germany are well connected by rail, there are smaller towns and regions that benefit from domestic flights due to less frequent or slower train services.
Connection to International Flights:
Many travelers might use domestic flights to connect to international ones. For example, someone might fly from a smaller city in Germany to Frankfurt Airport, one of Europe’s largest hubs, to catch an international flight.
The competition between air travel and rail can lead to competitive pricing, giving consumers options based on price, convenience, and personal preference.
Emergence of Green Technologies:
As greener flight technologies (like electric planes) emerge, the environmental arguments against domestic flights might soften. However, as of my last training data in 2021, such technologies are not yet mainstream.
In summary, while there are arguments both for and against domestic flights in Germany, a lot depends on individual preferences, specific travel needs, environmental considerations, and broader policy objectives. As the world moves towards more sustainable travel practices, countries like Germany will continue to evaluate the role of domestic flights in their transportation matrix.