FRANKFURT Feb 3 Germany's largest airline
Lufthansa has criticised plans by Etihad Airways to
invest in ailing Italian carrier Alitalia and called
on the European Commission to block the deal, saying it would
amount to unfair competition.
Etihad, which has bought stakes in airlines across the world
including Air Berlin, Aer Lingus and Virgin
Australia, said on Sunday it was in the final stages of a
process that could see it invest in Alitalia.
Lufthansa has fiercely lobbied against state-owned Gulf
airlines such as Etihad, Emirates, and Qatar Airways,
and their fast-paced expansion in Europe, saying they benefit
from unfair state aid and thus distort the market.
"We reject recurrent subsidies and the partial
renationalisation of European airlines, whether by European
states or by states or state-owned companies from outside the
European Union," the German airline said on Monday.
Alitalia is seeking a partner to help keep it flying and a
government-backed plan to raise emergency cash already came
under fire from International Airlines Group, the owner
of British Airways and Iberia, in October.
The Italian airline also said on Monday it was about to
finalise loan agreements with banks for up to 200 million euros
($270 million) pledged last year as part of the
Lufthansa added that Europe's policy makers should stop
burdening the region's own airlines with measures such as
emissions trading, passenger taxes and night flight bans and
focus on ensuring a fair global framework.
"We are doing our bit by undergoing painful cost-cutting
measures, but we need fair competition," said the airline, in
the midst of a restructuring programme to cut costs and boost
The European Commission, which is already looking at whether
an investment by the state-owned Italian postal service in
Alitalia contravenes its state aid rules, did not immediately
respond to requests for comment.
International Airlines Group declined to comment on Monday.