Last updated: 01:30 PM ET, Fri October 23 2015

Etihad Wins Injunction in German Court to Continue airberlin Codeshares

Airlines & Airports | David Cogswell | October 23, 2015

Etihad Wins Injunction in German Court to Continue airberlin Codeshares

Photo courtesy of Air Berlin

It’s not only the American airlines that are doing battle against the rapid advance of the Arabian Gulf carriers; the battle is also being waged in Europe, and Etihad Airways just won a major decision in a German court.

Etihad, the national carrier of the United Arab Emirates, was awarded an injunction by the Administrative Court of Braunschweig, Germany, that will allow it to continue operating its codeshare flights with airberlin to destinations in Europe.  

The injunction gives Etihad and airberlin the right to continue operating the codeshare flights until Nov. 8 while the governments of Germany and the UAE wrangle over open skies agreements.

Etihad claims that it was forced to file the lawsuit because Germany’s Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure had not yet approved Etihad Airways codesharing with airberlin for the winter 2015-2016 season, and the season gets underway Oct. 25.

In August, the German government agency reversed its 2012 approvals of the codeshare flights between airberlin  and Etihad.

Etihad owns a 29.2 percent share of airberlin, Germany’s second largest airline. Etihad made its equity investment in Air Berlin in 2011, in what was seen as a rescue when the German airline was struggling and its stock price was plunging.

Etihad now says the injunction will temporarily prevent its having to cancel 82,000 codeshare flights over the coming six months and will protect the jobs of airberlin’s 8,000 employees.

Ever as sharp of tongue as he is of business acumen, James Hogan, Etihad’s president and CEO, did not mince words in his criticism of the German government, accusing it of reneging on agreements that were part of Etihad’s decision to invest in airberlin, and of damaging not only airberlin, but the German economy itself.

“The failure by the German Government to approve the codeshares in time would severely and possibly terminally damage airberlin, Germany’s second-largest airline, of which Etihad Airways owns 29.2 percent,” said Hogan. “The codeshare routes in question, including flights to our hub in Abu Dhabi, were among 65 previously approved by Germany’s civil aviation authority, the LBA, and a key reason that we invested in airberlin.

“In addition to the damage it would cause to airberlin, the withdrawal of approval for codeshare services on 29 routes would critically reduce consumer choice within and beyond Germany, and cause massive inconvenience to passengers, including during the peak Christmas and New Year travel periods. More than 82,000 journeys have been booked on these flights during the next six months.

“The social and economic damage to Germany by this decision would be even greater. By suddenly disallowing established and legitimate codeshare flights, the Government will endanger the jobs of 8,000 people directly employed by airberlin, and many more jobs provided by the airline’s suppliers and business partners in affected destinations.”

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