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Air Berlin scrap Stansted flights (and onwards to Germany)


Budget airline Air Berlin has announced that it is to scrap its Glasgow Airport - Stansted route, which will also hit Scottish travellers connecting to onward flights to Germany. The airline blamed Gordon Brown's hike in air passenger duty (APD) for the decision to scrap the route from the end of the month.

The airline has operated the route - its only Scottish flight - for just over two years. In addition to providing a link to London, it has been used by passengers to connect to seven German destinations via Air Berlin's UK hub at Stansted - from where it operates flights to Berlin, Dusseldorf, Leipzig, Nuremberg, Munster, Hanover and Paderborn.

However, last night the airline confirmed it would axe its twice-daily flights from October 31. Its spokeswoman, Angelika Schwaff, blamed the increase in APD for the move. She said: 'The doubling of the APD made our UK domestic hub operation commercially difficult.'

The Air Berlin model had depended on transiting passengers from Glasgow, Manchester and Belfast through Stansted on special transfers. Passengers checked their bags in at their local airport but changed planes in London.

When flights launched in 2005, the airline was able to offer fares of £29 single, including taxes. However, Mr. Brown's decision to double duty from February made the model untenable because passengers flying from a UK airport via through Stansted had to pay the tax twice. Ms. Schwaff said: 'We had charges of more than £20 on lead-in fares of £24. That meant we were operating at a loss.'

The airline could avoid double APD by flying direct from Scotland to Germany, one of the biggest markets for Scottish tourism. The Herald newspaper reports that negotiations are under way to bring Air Berlin back to Glasgow, perhaps with Dusseldorf rather than Stansted acting as a hub.

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