Merkel supports Air Berlin in Etihad dispute

Chancellor does not want to “dig the grave” of Air Berlin

Air Berlin has the support of German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a dispute over whether its partner Etihad Airways is exerting too much control, according to an article in the magazine Focus.

Etihad has a 29% stake in Air Berlin but is being investigated by European and German authorities.

The German government will make a decision on the relationship between the two carriers early in 2015, the weekly business magazine Wirtschaftswoche reported on Saturday. Lufthansa has criticised this delay.

For Air Berlin to keep its operating license, it must be majority controlled by European investors.

Focus said that at a cabinet meeting Merkel told Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt that Germany needed competition between two strong national carriers and that she did not want to “dig the grave” of Air Berlin.

Reuters / Focus / Wirtschaftswoche

[photo by Aero Icarus; Creative Commons licence]