x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Emirates responds to German accusations over landing slots

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

Emirates has hit back at Lufthansa after the German national carrier sought to stop it receiving landing slots at Berlin's new airport.

An Emirates spokesman said its 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, the airline 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 said.

He claimed that other European countries, including France and the UK, were more restrictive in their slot allocations to Emirates than Germany was.

"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 Lufthansa was pushing the federal government to deny Emirates direct flights to the capital through the Berlin-Brandenburg International Airport, which is nearing completion.

This is not the first time the two airlines have locked horns.

The companies clashed last year when Emirates accused Lufthansa of making "false and deliberately misleading" claims designed to block the Dubai airline's request for additional access in Germany.

The Emirates spokesman said the airline was "hopeful" that its long-standing request will receive German government support.

"We have had discussions with the relevant officials on this matter and look forward to further dialogue," the airline added.

rjones@thenational.ae