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Germany Restricts Air Berlin-Etihad Codeshare Flights


As many as 46,000 bookings could be left up in the air after a decision by the German federal aviation authority canceled 34 Air Berlin routes.

Executives at Air Berlin are weighing their legal options after the German federal aviation authority, Luftfahrt-Bundesamt (LBA), cancelled 34 codeshare routes between the airline and Etihad Airways. Reuters reports the routes were cancelled after Air Berlin submitted its winter schedule to LBA authorities, even though the routes were accepted in previous schedules.

According to Reuters, Etihad is under investigation by German authorities as to amount of influence the UAE-based airline exerts over Air Berlin. Etihad is currently the largest shareholder in Air Berlin, owning 29 percent of the company. Etihad also recently announced that Air Berlin would be a charter partner in its new airline alliance, Etihad Airways Partners.

German Transport Ministry spokesman Ingo Strater told AP that the decision to limit the codeshare flights was based on traffic rights agreements between Germany and the UAE. The codeshare routes that were denied by the LBA could cease operations as early as the end of October. It’s estimated that the cancelled routes could put 46,000 current bookings in jeopardy, although Air Berlin says that passengers will be transported as currently planned.

“This [move] creates damage to the trust from our passengers in longtime existing flight connections,” Air Berlin CEO Wolfgang Prock-Schauer told Air Transport World. “Further growth [within aviation] will happen outside Germany and strengthen hubs in other countries. For German airports, this will result in the loss of attractive flights and less growth.”

Executives at Air Berlin said they will exhaust their options in order to overturn the LBA’s decision. “As the financial impact will be borne mainly by Air Berlin, the airline will take all legal steps within its power to fight this decision,” said Prock-Schauer. Air Transport World estimated that Air Berlin’s codeshare flights across all carriers generates a combined annual turnover of $127 million.

[Photo: Air Berlin]

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