Airbnb removes all Viennese municipal apartments from its site

Airbnb is removing all municipal-owned buildings in Vienna from its accommodation rental platform as it announced a set of measures intended to support "responsible tourism" in Austria.

Social housing in Vienna
Social housing makes up a large proportion of apartments in Vienna, but the city has long tried to crack down on their use as tourism sublets. Photo: Alexander Klein/AFP

The tourism rental platform promised to remove social housing, called Gemeindebau in Austria, from its site, but also announced five new measures to support the city. 

“Airbnb shares the goal of the City of Vienna to protect living space – especially in municipal housing – and is therefore removing listings in municipal housing from the platform as part of a voluntary initiative,” the company said in a statement.

In fact, Wiener Wohnen — Europe’s largest property manager, an organisation owned by the city which operates nearly a quarter of a million apartment rentals — already forbade its tenants from subletting via Airbnb, but not all tenants have obeyed the rule. Airbnb had previously requested that the city report individual listings, rather than block specific addresses from using its platform.

A recent ruling from Vienna’s Commercial Court confirmed that city-owned apartments could not be rented on platforms like Airbnb.

Now, Airbnb has agreed to remove the apartments, and only to allow listings at the specified addresses if the lister specifies that it is not a municipal-owned apartment.

It has also granted Viennese authorities access to Airbnb to help ensure the rules are followed, and has committed to remind Austrian users regularly of the rules and to remove any listings that violate them.

Its other measures to support responsible tourism in Austria include a digital registration for hosts, as exists already in countries including France, the Netherlands and Spain, as well as publishing figures on Airbnb’s usage in Austria and continuing to share tax data with the Finance Ministry.

The company also announced the launch of a telephone hotline where neighbours can reported suspected illicit rentals, as well as other issues like loud parties in a rental, directly.

Vienna Housing Councillor Kathrin Gaál said she welcomed the measures, but told Der Standard she would be waiting to see if they were matched with “consistent action” to prevent social housing being subletted.

Vienna’s system of social housing and low rental prices have attracted an international reputation, but like many other cities, it has had difficulties with over-tourism. In 2016, the city amended its Tourism Promotion Act to force people to pay taxes on income from short-term sub-lets even if these were only occasional and therefore not considered a business.

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Austrian Airlines expands flight connections to Berlin ahead of winter

Austrian Airlines announced on Friday it would launch new weekly flights to Berlin, including a Berlin-Innsbruck route.

Austrian Airlines expands flight connections to Berlin ahead of winter

In the 2023 winter flight schedule, Austrian Airlines (AUA) said it would increase its offers to and from Berlin and include a new Berlin-Innsbruck route with a weekly flight.

From January 28th to February 25th, the company will fly passengers from the German capital to the Tyrolean city on Saturdays, aiming to give winter tourists more connections and travel possibilities. The airline already has routes connecting Innsbruck to Vienna, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Stockholm and Copenhagen.

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In total, Lufthansa Group airlines will fly to Innsbruck up to 48 times a week during the peak ski season, the AUA parent company said in a press release.

“With this seasonal service, we are giving our flight program to Berlin an upgrade. Our winter sports-savvy passengers will enjoy the convenience of a direct connection to Tyrol.

READ ALSO: Train travel in Austria: 6 ways you can save money

“Austrian Airlines and the Lufthansa Group significantly contribute to strengthening tourist traffic in the region with almost 50 weekly flights to Innsbruck,” says Austrian Airlines CCO Michael Trestl.

The company added that the Vienna-Berlin route would also be expanded with an additional flight on Saturdays around the semester break, the company added. This will benefit not only city tourists travelling to Vienna or Berlin but also numerous transfer passengers who travel via Vienna as a convenient hub for their onward flight.

READ MORE: Five European cities you can reach from Austria in less than five hours by train

Winter routes

Austrian Airlines is not the only company offering more rules for the winter season.

The low-cost company Ryanair announced eight new routes would be included in the program of its flight scheduled from Vienna, as The Local reported.

READ ALSO: From inflation to Covid: What to expect from Austria’s winter season

The new routes are Bremen (Germany), Manchester (England), Copenhagen (Denmark), Helsinki (Finland), Genoa and Venice (Italy), Tuzla (Bosnia and Herzegovina) and Sibiu (Romania).