airberlin has followed the lead of British Airways/Iberia parent IAG in withdrawing its membership from peak European aviation body, the Association of European Airlines (AEA).
The airline’s claimed it took the decision to leave the organisation in light of the AEA’s commitment to a “protectionist aviation policy in Europe”.
“We see no future in [this] policy. On the contrary, the liberalisation of bilateral agreements will promote further consolidation and new, innovative business models, thereby benefitting all passengers. With its current focus and representation of interests, the AEA is not fulfilling these ideas, but allowing itself to be driven by airlines which desperately try to erect a new wall around Europe,” said airberlin CEO Stefan Pichler.
Like IAG, airberlin’s view would seem contrary to its own interests. However, like IAG, a significant shareholder in the airline is a Gulf carrier – in this case, Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways, which owns a 30% stake in the German airline. Qatar Airways acquired a 10% stake in IAG in January.
“I’m firmly convinced that new investment in the European aviation industry – from other regions of the world, for example – will not only preserve many jobs, but also create new ones. Increased competition will offer passengers more choice and more attractive services, and promote long-term growth and additional connections,” added Pichler.
airberlin said it would continue to be involved in aviation policy at a European level and will now actively promote its own initiatives in Brussels.