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Airlines attack Etihad for interest-free loan

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Lufthansa renews calls for fair competition in Europe

Abu Dhabi’s ruling family gave Etihad Airways access to an interest-free US$3 billion loan, according to media reports yesterday. The news quickly prompted bitter criticism from the airline’s competitors, the news agency Reuters reports.

The Australian Financial Review newspaper cited leaked documents that said the loan for the government-owned carrier needed no repayments until 2027.

Airlines especially in Europe have complained for years about what they see as unfair competition from state-controlled Gulf carriers. But Etihad has always rejected allegations that it receives state subsidies and financial support.

Lufthansa renewed its calls for the European Union to ensure fair market conditions.

“It is crucial that the European Commission and the authorities in the European member states protect their private European airlines and European hubs from unequal competition from state-run air traffic systems,” a Lufthansa spokesman said. “We reject subsidies and the partial nationalisation of European airlines, whether they come from European states, or states or state-owned entities from outside of Europe.”

Reuters

[photo courtesy Etihad Airways]

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