x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Emirates fires at Lufthansa in battle over Berlin slots

Emirates hits back at Lufthansa moves to block the Dubai airline's expansion in Germany.

Emirates Airline has hit back at Lufthansa after the German national carrier sought to stop the Dubai company receiving landing slots at Berlin's new airport, which is nearing completion.

An Emirates spokesman said the airline's expansion would contribute to the prosperity of both Germany and the global economy.

"International air services, being recognised as one of the most important drivers of economic growth, should be encouraged to develop in the post-recession period," the spokesman said.

Services to Berlin and Stuttgart remain "under-serviced" in terms of scheduled intercontinental routes, Emirates said. The new slots would benefit trade, investment, tourism and employment, not just in the two cities, but nationwide in Germany, the spokesman added.

Lufthansa wants to block the Dubai carrier's bid because it believes the airline has an unfair advantage in its services between the two countries. "We think there is a big imbalance in the allocation of slots," said Wolfgang Weber, a Lufthansa spokesman.

"Emirates already flies to four airports in Germany while we only fly to one destination in Dubai. They have between five and six times more business on that route as a result." He claimed other European countries, including France and the UK, were more restrictive in their slot allocations to Emirates than Germany

"We can't predict what decision the German government will take. We can only express our opinion," Mr Weber said. "There is no bilateral air traffic relationship with any other country that is as unequal as between Germany and Dubai."

Harald Wolf, the deputy mayor of Berlin, was reported as saying that Lufthansa was pushing the German federal government to deny Emirates direct flights to the capital through the Berlin-Brandenburg International Airport, due to open about the end of the year.

This is not the first time the two airlines have locked horns. They clashed last year when Emirates accused Lufthansa of making "false and deliberately misleading" claims it said were designed to block its request for additional access in Germany.