Austrian Airlines complains about Emirates
Austrian Airlines has asked for government compensation to allow it to compete with Emirates Airlines, after the Gulf carrier won permission to almost double its flights to Vienna.
Emirates has agreed a deal with Austria’s transport agency to increase its flight schedule to 13 a week from March 27, in response to high customer demand; a move which Austrian Airlines said would impact heavily on its business.
“This is not a good decision, either for the Vienna hub or for the city as a business location,” an AUA spokesperson said in an emailed statement.
The airline said that fees such as domestic flight ticket taxes and costs related to carbon dioxide emissions – which don’t affect Emirates as a non-European airline – mean it is unable to compete on an equal footing with its state-backed rival.
“It is becoming increasingly difficult to offer non-stop long-haul flights from Vienna, as carriers in the Gulf operate subject to completely different preconditions than European airlines due to the intertwining of state, owners, airport and airline in the region. Quite simply, competition is not taking place on a level playing field,” the spokesperson said.
Austrian Airlines would need to be “rapidly compensated in turn through the suspension of another measure which places an unnecessary strain on the location: the flight ticket tax.”
The agreement to increase Emirates’ summer landing slots is understood to be a temporary, with a fresh round of discussions planned in six months.
The dispute is the latest war of words between Emirates Airline and its European rivals. France’s KLM, British Airways and Germany’s Lufthansa – which earlier this year was accused of lobbying its government to stop Emirates securing new landing slots – have all called for curbs on the expansion of Gulf carriers on long-haul routes.
The carriers claim Gulf airline use unfair subsidies to finance aircraft deals and to take market share from existing airlines.
Co-chairman of AUA Peter Malanik last week said state cash means Emirates is becoming an unchallenged force.
“It’s not a match of airline against airline – it’s a game between a state and AUA,” he told Austria’s Kurier newspaper. “The situation is similar to the production of T-shirts using child labour. AUA would need to hire 1,000 staff from Bangladesh immediately to be able to compete. Do we want that? Certainly not,” he said.
The airline said it has scrapped direct flights from Vienna to Australia and Mauritius as a result of unfair competition from Gulf carriers.