Etihad files lawsuit in Britain against Air Berlin administrators

FILE PHOTO - Etihad Airways Airbus A320-200 is seen at the National Airport Minsk, Belarus April 19, 2018. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko

ABU DHABI (Reuters) - Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways on Wednesday said it has begun legal proceedings in London, disputing a claim by the administrators of Air Berlin AB1.DE for damages of up to 2 billion euros ($2.26 billion).

State-owned Etihad filed its case in the High Court in London on Wednesday, a company spokesman told Reuters, and believes that the case initiated in December by the German airline in Berlin should be determined by the English court.

The insolvency administrator’s lawsuit said that Etihad had not complied with its financial obligations to Air Berlin..

Etihad, which had withdrawn backing for Air Berlin only months after saying it would continue to provide funding, said in a statement that it had “invested in Air Berlin as a UK public company” and that its relationship is subject to the jurisdiction of the English courts.

“The insolvency administrator’s case has no basis and we are confident that we will prevail wherever the case is determined,” an Etihad spokesman said, adding that the London court is the proper venue for the dispute.

Air Berlin acknowledged the statement made by Etihad but said it still believes “the jurisdiction for this lawsuit is Berlin”.

Etihad held a 29 percent stake in Air Berlin and had been providing funding since becoming a shareholder in early 2012 and sent a letter to the company in April 2017 stating its intention to continue to provide funding for the next 18 months.

Additional reporting by Alexander Huebner in Berlin; Editing by David Goodman