Lufthansa lashes out at Gulf carriers

German flag carrier Lufthansa has taken another swipe at the “Big Three” Gulf carriers, warning that Europe’s civil aviation infrastructure risks being damaged by the Arabian airlines.

Lufthansa—which has said its business has also been damaged by the Gulf carriers—has been a persistent critic of Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways—arguing they are heavily subsidized by their respective governments, charges that all three carriers deny.

In a briefing document in which it sets out the importance of passenger and cargo air services to the German economy, Lufthansa notes that airlines in Germany employ nearly 325,000 people and pay taxes and social insurance benefits of €23 billion ($25 billion) annually.

It adds that, although air cargo is responsible for 2% of exports by volume, they constitute 30% of exports by value. Other airlines in the Lufthansa Group—Austrian Airlines, Swiss International Air Lines and Brussels Airlines—also play significant roles in their respective nations’ economies, it notes.

“Airlines like Lufthansa Cargo—with their experience, their network, and commitment to location—are decisive partners for Germany’s globally active industrial enterprises.”

However, it says: “It is becoming ever more apparent that these structures are being massively undermined Europe-wide by the mega hubs along the Persian Gulf.”

On the tourism front, it notes that over the past 20 years, the number of tourists from China and Hong Kong has risen by a factor of seven, to two million annually.

“Germany and the Lufthansa Group together will participate in this growth if better access to infrastructure is created in the Asian source markets … and direct flights to Asia are not inhibited by the highly government-supported carrier Emirates.”

All three major Gulf carriers are expanding rapidly, deploying their fast-increasing fleets ever more widely overseas.

It is “absolutely necessary to pursue an aviation policy that enforces fair competition more than it has up to now,” Lufthansa said, adding that European politicians can also help even the playing field against non-European competitors by not “saddling them with additional levies and regulations.”

The European Commission unveiled its new aviation strategy earlier this month. While not directly commenting on competition from Arab carriers, it said it was considering “new measures to address unfair practices” from third countries.

Originally published on ATWOnline