Etihad Airways has won a court injunction allowing it to continue operating all codeshare flights with partner Air Berlin to destinations in Europe, the US and the UAE.
The injunction, which is valid until November 8, provides an opportunity for the UAE and German governments to resolve “outstanding differences” through ongoing consultation.
A dispute arose in August 2014 because of a “unilateral change of opinion” by the ministry of transport concerning the codeshare provisions of bilateral agreements between Germany and the UAE.
The airline was forced to launch the legal action on Friday as Germany’s transport ministry had not approved Etihad Airways codeshares on Air Berlin services during the new winter schedule, which started yesterday.
Etihad Airways said it applied for the injunction “to help protect the German carrier’s 8,000 employees and provide the passengers who have booked more than 82,000 journeys with clarity and confidence”.
President and chief executive, James Hogan, said: “The failure by the German government to approve the codeshares in time, would severely, and possibly terminally, damage Air Berlin, Germany’s second-largest airline, of which Etihad Airways owns 29.2%.
“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 Air Berlin.”
He added: “In addition to the damage it would cause to Air Berlin, 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 Air Berlin, and many more jobs provided by the airline’s suppliers and business partners in affected destinations.”
Hogan said Germany’s economic links to many countries would also be seriously damaged if Etihad Airways was forced to end the codeshare agreements with airberlin.
“Connectivity will be lost or diminished to a range of destinations throughout the Middle East, Indian sub-continent, Asia and Australia, as these codeshare flights are directly linked to Etihad Airways’ services beyond Abu Dhabi,” he said.
“Business people, tourists and families travelling between these destinations and Germany will be faced with less choice and higher costs.”
The codeshare partnership has enabled more than two million passengers to connect between the networks of both airlines, and contributed €252 million to Air Berlin’s earnings since 2012, according to Hogan.
“Etihad Airways has delivered 1,365,487 passengers to Air Berlin, while Air Berlin connected 645,157 passengers onto flights operated by Etihad Airways,” he said.
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