Etihad fighting German court decision on airberlin codeshare flights
"With airberlin, we are working to ensure that no traveler suffers as a result of this dispute," Etihad CEO James Hogan said. "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."
The airberlin codeshares, which had been approved through Jan. 15, were rejected by Germany's Ministry of Transport. The authority of the ministry to issue the rejection was upheld by the Administrative Court of Braunschweig, Germany, and Etihad officials filed an appeal in the case last week in a higher administrative court in Luneburg, Germany.
Hogan said the ministry's actions were not in keeping with the support Etihad had shown for airberlin - a company in which Etihad has held a 29.2 percent share since 2011.
In total, codeshare services had been approved for 63 airberlin routes.
"Together, airberlin and Etihad Airways have created a new competitive choice for German travelers, 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," Hogan said. "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 advisers but by a former director-general of civil aviation for Germany."
Hogan said Etihad's interested in airberlin represented investment in Germany and created jobs in the European nation.
"As a global business, we focus our investments in markets which will deliver long-term returns," he said. "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."
Etihad has invested in airlines in Australia, India, Italy, Serbia and the Seychelles - all without incident.
"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," Hogan said. "Investors need every reassurance that the integrity of their investments in Germany will be respected and protected.
"Make no mistake, protectionism will undoubtedly harm the investment landscape in Germany," Hogan said.