In August this year German authorities put Air Berlin on notice. Authorities threatened to deny the renewal of a codeshare agreement between Air Berlin and Etihad Airways. With the codeshare in place Etihad Airways is able to offer its customers a larger network, and Air Berlin fills its seats with Etihad Airways passengers.
Passengers arriving in Germany on Etihad easily connect using an Etihad flight number on Air Berlin aircrafts to other European cities.
Target for the codeshare elimination are certain flights, mostly from and to Berlin.
Lufthansa is currently losing millions due to the longest strike in German aviation history.
Lufthansa spokesperson Boris Ogursky told eTN he could not comment on the Etihad Airways Air Berlin situation. He “thinks” Lufthansa has nothing to do with the German Federal Aviation Office putting Air Berlin on notice wanting to eliminate this codeshare agreement.
Lufthansa’s largest German competitor is Air Berlin. Etihad Airways, the national carrier of the United Arab Emirates has a substantial investment in Air Berlin.
Aviation experts say without Etihad’s investment in Air Berlin, this second German airline would have no longer been in business.
Behind closed doors Air Berlin managers are convinced the likelihood Lufthansa is behind this attempt is obvious.
eTN spoke with Air Berlin spokesperson Aage Duenhaupt: “The point of dispute with this codeshare is based on the air-traffic agreement between the Federal Republic of Germany and the United Arab Emirates. This is visible due to the authorization of this codeshare since 2012. It was already renewed six times by the German Federal Aviation Office. The ministry of transportation is trying to change the interpretation of this agreement. This would change this policy in regards to these flights. Air Berlin should be able to rely on current regulations according to this air traffic agreement set by the Federal Aviation Office.
In addition the German government cannot simply change the interpretation of a bilateral agreement with another country on its own. Therefore we expect this codeshare agreement must be approved for the coming winter season and beyond.”
If the German Federal Aviation Office would not renew the codeshare agreement the German Ministry of Transportation could intervene.
Denying the codeshare could not only have serious consequences for the survival of Air Berlin, but may have political consequences between Germany and the UAE.
Etihad Airways echoed this and told eTN: “Etihad Airways operations into Germany are governed by the bilateral agreements between the governments of Germany and the UAE. We are in ongoing discussions with the German Federal Aviation Office (LBA) and cannot speculate or comment about any potential outcomes or impacts arising from the recent LBA correspondence.”
The Air Berlin spokesperson thinks it’s fair to ask if this is an attempt to bring a monopoly back into the German airline market?
According to the German news publication Handelsblatt German government regulators indicated such codeshare permissions were authorized in error and in violation of current agreements.