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Lufthansa lobbies EU to restrict nationalisation of airlines

Dubai: Lufthansa lobbied the European Commission on Monday to restrict the nationalisation of European airlines, just a day after Etihad announced talks to take an equity stake in Italian Alitalia have progressed.

“We oppose recurring subsidies and the partial nationalisation of European airlines, regardless of whether this comes from European countries or states or state-owned enterprises outside of Europe,” the German-based airline stated on Monday.

The statement did not mention any specific airline. However, on Sunday Abu Dhabi state-owned Etihad Airways and Alitalia announced it was entering a 30-day final negotiation period for Etihad to possibly take a stake in Alitalia.

Etihad declined to comment on the Lufthansa statement.

In response to the Eithad and Alitalia announcement, Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta told reporters in Abu Dhabi on Sunday that he is “open to the idea” of an Etihad-led management reshuffle at Alitalia.

But Lufthansa is calling on the European Commission to “stop these kinds of work-around tactics.”

The European Commission is executive body of the European Union (EU) responsible for proposing legislation and implementing decisions.

Lufthansa stated that it believes Europe’s aviation sector, which is largely privatised, is on the right track and called on politicians to “work towards fair, global conditions.”

Lufthansa did, however, attack the Germany and Austrian air traffic tax by labelling it as an extra burden on airlines.

The air traffic tax is a unilateral decision by Europe on emissions trading and restrictive night flight bans.

“We are doing our job by means of painful cost-cutting measures, but we need fair competition,” the airline stated.

Etihad holds minority equity stakes in several airlines including European-based Etihad Regional – operated by Darwin Airlines, airberlin, Air Serbia and Aer Lingus.

Lufthansa has previously lobbied against the European expansion of Gulf airlines, Etihad, Emirates and Qatar Airways, which is has said benefits from state aid.