x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Emirates confident of Vienna flights

Emirates Airline is optimistic it can resolve a dispute with Austria so it can increase flights

Emirates Airline says it is confident plans to almost double its flights to Vienna will go ahead despite a disagreement with authorities in Austria.

The claim follows a series of disputes over landing rights in countries including Germany, as flag carriers try to fight off competition from the Dubai airline.

Emirates is aiming to increase its number of flights to the Austrian capital from Dubai by six to 13 a week from next Sunday.

"Talks continue with the Austrian authorities to resolve a technical disagreement concerning the air services agreement between the UAE and Austria, and our additional flights [for] which passengers have booked [and] Emirates has invested in promoting and hired new staff for," Emirates said.

The additional services would help the Austrian economy, the airline added. "Emirates is a strong partner for Austria, supporting business, trade, exports and tourism - not only within Austria but throughout our network of destinations," it said. "Key stakeholders in Austria agree the additional flights will be an important boost to the Austrian economy."

The carrier said it had decided to launch the extra services in response to strong demand, as it had flown more than 1 million passengers to Vienna since its flights to the city started in 2004.

The Austrian civil aviation authority declined to comment, but confirmed negotiations were taking place between the two parties.

Peter Malanik, the co-chairman of Austrian Airlines, which is owned by Lufthansa has spoken out against Emirates in the country's press, accusing the airline of expanding without concern for profitability and claiming Austrian had to scrap services to Mauritius and Australia because of competition from Emirates.

The airline has faced a number of obstacles as it expands its fleet and network. Emirates also clashed with Lufthansa this year after the German carrier tried to prevent it from being granted landing rights at an airport in Berlin that is due to open next year. Lufthansa said it was concerned that Emirates had an unfair advantage, with the carrier flying to four airports in Germany, while it flies only to Dubai International Airport.

Last year, Air France tried to block Emirates and Etihad Airways from expanding their services to French cities.

But in January the airlines were given the green light by French aviation authorities for plans to increase flights to cities including Paris.

Emirates has also had attempts to increase its flights to Canada blocked, despite years of talks, resulting in a diplomatic row.