Etihad Airways has launched legal action in a bid to overturn a German court’s decision to revoke the approval of 29 codeshare flights with airberlin.
Last week, the a court upheld the German Ministry of Transport’s rejection of the codeshare rights. But Etihad has now filed an appeal with a higher court.
“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,” said Etihad’s president & CEO, James Hogan.
Etihad took a 29.2% stake in airberlin in 2011 and has since received permission for codeshare services on a total of 63 air routes. But in the summer of 2014, the German Ministry of Transport raised concerns about 29 of the codeshares, which Etihad says was due to pressure from Lufthansa. These will cease operating from 15 January unless the court’s decision is overturned. The remaining codeshares remain unaffected.
“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,” said Hogan.
“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.
“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.”
Etihad has devised a strategy of making strategic investments in airlines across the globe, and then coordinating their operations with its own services through codeshare partnerships and other arrangements.
To date, the Abu Dhabi-based airline has taken stakes in Ireland’s Aer Lingus, Air Serbia, Air Seychelles, Alitalia, India’s Jet Airways, Virgin Australia and Switzerland’s Darwin Airline, along with airberlin.