Etihad Files Appeal Over airberlin Codeshare

Photo by airberlin/RAPP

Etihad Airways reports that it has filed an appeal in the higher administrative court in Lüneburg, Germany, over last week's decision by German authorities to revoke approval of 29 of Etihad's codeshare flights with airberlin

“With airberlin, we are working to ensure that no traveler suffers as a result of this dispute, and all bookings will be honored," said Etihad President and CEO James Hogan in a written release. “We will fight all the way to protect our investment, to protect our partnership with airberlin and to protect competitive choice in German air travel.”

Etihad gained a 29.2 per cent stake in airberlin in 2011, and received approval for codeshare services on a total of 63 air routes. In the summer of 2014, the German Ministry of Transport raised concerns about 29 of the codeshares, and in November 2015 only approved the 29 codeshares until 15 January 2016. The remaining codeshares remain unaffected.

Etihad said that the decision to raise concerns about the 29 disputed codeshares came about due to lobbying by Lufthansa. At the time of the decision, the German Ministry of Transport argued that the routes were not covered by an air traffic rights agreement between Germany and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which allows UAE airlines to fly to four airports in Germany -- not including Berlin, where airberlin is based. 

Last week the Wall Street Journal noted in an analysis that the dispute is playing out against a backdrop of "heightened tensions" between U.S. and European airlines and carriers from the Middle East. Airlines in the U.S. and Europe have lobbied their respective governments to stem the growth of Middle Eastern airlines, arguing that they benefit from unfair competition -- a charge the Middle Eastern airlines deny. 

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