06 Jan 2016 08:30
Etihad Airways today launched fresh legal action in a bid to overturn a German court’s decision to revoke the approval for 29 of its codeshare flights with airberlin.
Last week, the
Administrative Court of Braunschweig decided that the German Ministry of
Transport was entitled to reject the 29 Etihad Airways - airberlin codeshares,
which had been approved only until 15 January 2016.
As the notice of appeal was
filed in the higher administrative court in Lüneburg today, Etihad Airways
President and Chief Executive Officer, James Hogan, reiterated the airline’s
unwavering support for airberlin, saying it remained committed to the German
carrier, to competition and to consumer choice for German travellers.
“With airberlin, we are
working to ensure that no traveller suffers as a result of this dispute, and
all bookings will be honoured.
“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.”
Mr Hogan said Etihad
Airways’ commitment to airberlin was in stark contrast to the lack of support
demonstrated by the German Ministry of Transport for a proud German airline.
Etihad Airways took a 29.2
per cent stake in airberlin in 2011, following encouragement from German
regional and national Government representatives. The airlines had
approval for codeshare services on a total of 63 air routes, providing German
travellers with new choices to destinations around the world. In the summer of
2014, the German Ministry of Transport raised concerns about 29 of the
codeshares, based on lobbying by Lufthansa, and in November 2015 only approved
the 29 codeshares until 15 January 2016. The remaining codeshares remain
Mr Hogan said: “Together,
airberlin and Etihad Airways have created new competitive choice for German
travellers, based on codeshare services to international destinations that have
operated for years without any concerns being raised as they are
pro-competitive and increase consumer choice. That was entirely correct,
given that they meet the terms of the air services agreement between Germany
and the UAE – a fact confirmed not just by our own legal team and expert
advisors but by a former Director-General of Civil Aviation for Germany.
“Now, after four years of
investing in Germany, supporting airberlin jobs as well as creating our own new
employment in Germany, we find the rules have changed.
“As a global business, we
focus our investments in markets which will deliver long-term returns. We
were encouraged to invest in airberlin. However, since that initial investment,
we have faced a series of significant challenges, including the introduction of
airport taxes, which have directly eroded airberlin’s profitability.
“In other markets, such as
Australia, India, Italy, Serbia and the Seychelles, our investments have been
welcomed and supported. Yet in Germany, our commitment continues to be
undermined by the lobbying efforts and protectionist tactics of Lufthansa, the
“Unless the German
government can show its commitment to support all German companies and German
jobs, its reputation as a safe country in which to invest is at stake.
Investors need every reassurance that the integrity of their investments in
Germany will be respected and protected.
“Etihad Airways is but one
investor in one industry. But our experience will serve as a warning to
others when it comes to making international investment decisions.
“Make no mistake.
Protectionism will undoubtedly harm the investment landscape in Germany.”