Emirates takes fresh run at Berlin slots

FRANKFURT: Airline Emirates took a new approach in its long-running battle to secure slots at Berlin and Stuttgart airports, brandishing before the government a study that contradicts claims it takes business from flag carrier Lufthansa.

"It's not that Germany's restrictive but it's over 10 years now that we've been asking politely," Andrew Parker, senior vice president public affairs at Emirates, told journalists in Frankfurt on Wednesday.

So far, the Gulf-based carrier may only fly to four airports in Germany and its plans to expand have met with fierce opposition from Lufthansa, which claims Emirates benefits from unfair subsidies and is therefore distorting competition on the German market.

The study, compiled for Emirates by the non-profit German Aerospace Centre DLR, says that Emirates has created additional demand for travel between Germany and the eastern hemisphere and that if it were allowed to fly into Berlin and Stuttgart on a daily basis, it would create close to 1,000 jobs through aviation-related activities and tourism.

The research, which Emirates will present to politicians in Berlin, also says Emirates would compete more with rival Gulf airline Etihad than with Lufthansa were it allowed to fly into and out of Berlin and Stuttgart.

Lufthansa has cited competition from Gulf airlines as one of the main reasons why it needs a new 1.5 billion euro ($1.95 billion) savings drive.

Some have argued that Emirates could stop operations at two of the airports it serves now in order to fly into Berlin and Stuttgart, the southwestern German city where it hopes to take advantage of cargo and business travel demand from the region's big carmakers like Daimler.

The recent move by fellow Gulf carrier Etihad to raise its stake in German No.2 carrier Air Berlin to almost 30 percent also highlights Emirates' lack of access to Berlin.

Emirates' Parker said however that the airline would not give up any of its existing destinations in Germany - Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich and Duesseldorf - nor would it resort to acquisitions to get further access to the market.





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