Update: I wrote this post yesterday morning but failed to hit publish. Minutes after I had it go live today, I learned that the German government has apparently already reversed this very strange decision. So it looks like all is well, for now, but there’s still no public explanation for this very strange story.
In what has to be one of the strangest legal decisions in aviation that I’ve seen, German authorities have decided Etihad and airberlin have to cease codeshares. No explanation is given for the decision.
The German regulator has to re-approve codesharing agreements twice each year, with the filing of summer and winter schedules. The Etihad-airberlin relationship has been consistently approved (six times) over the past three years until now.
airberlin struggled on its own, and attracted an investment from Etihad as part of the Abu Dhabi-based carrier’s efforts to grow into a global player from its base in the capital of the UAE.
Etihad has even been willing to make investments worse than La Compagnie in order to further this end. They’re investing in Alitalia, after all.
The German government, it seems, would like to strike a blow to the heart of the country’s number two airline.
According to Prock-Schauer, the decision affects about 46,000 bookings. However, all passengers will be transported as planned.
Airberlin, which will absorb most of the financial impact, said it will use all legal steps to fight against the LBA decision.
…Airberlin reportedly generates a turnover of €100 million ($127 million) per year with codeshare flights (with all partner carriers), according to several media outlets.
It will be extremely hard for air berlin to be an anchor in the new Etihad-based airline alliance without codeshares.
And it will be a struggle for the airline without their Etihad codeshare.
My prediction — sans any special expertise in German law or politics — is this capricious decision gets overturned.