Second Wind

Air Berlin Gets Reprieve

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Where is Air Berlin heading to?
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    If German authorities block Persian Gulf carrier Etihad Airways from selling code-sharing flights with Air Berlin, the future of Germany’s No. 2 airline could be bleak.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Germany is allowing code-sharing between Etihad and Air Berlin this winter.
    • Air Berlin lost €316 million ($405 million) in 2013, and needs Abu Dhabi-based Etihad to survive.
    • Etihad owns 29 percent of Air Berlin after paying €300 million, a move rival Lufthansa opposed.
  • Audio

    Audio

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For now, the flight plan for Germany’s second-largest carrier is still sound.

Reversing an earlier decision, German aviation authorities have decided to continue to let Persian Gulf carrier Etihad Airways sell code-sharing flights on Germany’s second-largest airline, Air Berlin. The concession is essential to keeping the struggling carrier aloft.

In September, the German Federal Office of Aviation had blocked Abu-Dhabi based Etihad, which owns 29 percent of Air Berlin, from sharing more than 30 flight codes with the German carrier. That would have prevented Etihad from selling Air Berlin seats under its own name during the winter season.

What would happen to the code-sharing permits in April next year was still open to discussion although, in Air Berlin’s view, the licenses should be granted, its spokesman Aage Dünhaupt said on Friday.

The code-sharing decision was highly political in Germany, where the dominant carrier, Lufthansa, fears increased competition from Etihad via its Air Berlin proxy.

State-owned Middle East-based airlines, including Dubai-based Emirates and Qatar Airways, have come under scrutiny in Europe, where local rivals think they are taking advantage of lower labor costs in the Persian Gulf to make inroads on the continent.

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