Etihad Airways is fighting to overturn a German court’s decision to withdraw approval for 29 of its codeshare flights with airberlin. 

The German ministry of transport approved an initial series of codeshares at the start of 2012, after Etihad took a 29.2% stake in airberlin – a move Etihad president and CEO James Hogan insists was encouraged by the German government at both regional and national level.

The codeshares have steadily expanded to 63 services today. However, in the summer of 2014, following lobbying from Lufthansa, the ministry raised concerns about 29 of the routes.

In November, it made an interim decision to approved the 29 codeshares only until 15 January. Last week, the Administrative Court of Braunschweig decided that the government was entitled to reject these codeshares from 16 January until the end of the winter schedule on 30 March.

Flights affected include direct services from Abu Dhabi to Berlin and Stuttgart, since these cities are not included in the bilateral agreement between the UAE and Germany.

Airberlin operates two daily A330-200 services from Berlin to Abu Dhabi and one daily A320-200 service from Stuttgart. Neither these services nor non-codeshare Etihad flights on these routes will be allowed during the period.

After Etihad filed notice of appeal in the higher administrative court in Lüneburg this week, Mr Hogan reiterated the airline’s commitment to airberlin despite the latter’s continued poor performance. Airberlin has lost money in six of the past seven years and saw its losses accelerate to €376.7 million in 2014.

Mr Hogan said the codeshare services had “operated for years without any concerns being raised as they are pro-competitive and increase consumer choice. They meet the terms of the air services agreement between Germany and the UAE – a fact confirmed not just by our own legal team and expert advisors but by a former director-general of Civil Aviation for Germany”.

He added: “Now, after four years of investing in Germany, supporting airberlin jobs as well as creating our own new employment in Germany, we find the rules have changed.

“In other markets, such as Australia, India, Italy, Serbia and the Seychelles, our investments have been welcomed and supported. Yet in Germany, our commitment continues to be undermined by the lobbying efforts and protectionist tactics of Lufthansa.”

Mr Hogan said Etihad’s experience would “serve as a warning to others when it comes to making international investment decisions”, and added: “Protectionism will undoubtedly harm the investment landscape in Germany.”