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    Lufhansa Calls for WTO-Like Rules in Aviation to Ensure Fair Competition

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    Rules akin to the ones in the World Trade Organization (WTO) should be established in the aviation industry to resolve imbalances caused by the competition between government and private airlines, Lufthansa Group Media Relations head Andreas Bartels told Sputnik on Wednesday.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The spokesperson stressed that the aviation cannot be brought to the WTO, but some mechanisms or instruments can be developed and applied to the industry.

    “We have made a proposal that we should look to other industries to see what they are doing when it comes to imbalances. In trade, you have the WTO that looks for solutions to balance out imbalance. They have mechanisms, tools and instruments for that. We can probably learn from the WTO in order to apply such instruments to our industry.”

    Bartels comments come amid the rapid growth of the Gulf's three major airlines Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways. The spokesperson explained that the Gulf carriers are expanding their capacities bringing them into the market, which puts pressure on the competition.

    “It’s normal when the carriers are in competition with each other. The unusual thing is that the Gulf carriers are owned by the governments and supported by the governments, and they are competing against completely privatized companies, like Lufthansa. This leads to imbalance in the competition because they have different environment for their business than we have for our business.”

    Bartles noted that the airlines, including Lufthansa, feel the pressure on fares which are decreasing and make business not profitable.

    “The fares go down, so we don’t earn money on several routes, and that led to suspension of some routes, especially when it comes to fares in South East Asia. We used to fly to Manila, Saigon, Hyderabad – the flights had to be suspended due to non-profitability. And those passengers who used to fly with us now fly with Gulf carriers.”

    Currently, the Gulf carriers are calling for more traffic routes to Germany, but the German government has a clear position that it will not grant new traffic routes to them, Bartels noted.

    The dispute between the Gulf carriers and western companies has been ongoing. In March, the three US carriers in question called on US authorities to halt the expansion of Gulf carriers' services to the United States, accusing Etihad Airways and Emirates Airline, as well as Qatar Airways, of receiving state subsidies amounting to more than $40 billion.

    Lufthansa is a leading European airline headquartered in Germany, flying to more than 200 destinations in 80 countries.

    Aircrafts of German airline Lufthansa stand at the tarmac of the Franz-Josef-Strauss-Airport in Munich, southern Germany, on December 1, 2014, during a strike of pilots
    © AFP 2019 / CHRISTOF STACHE
    Aircrafts of German airline Lufthansa stand at the tarmac of the Franz-Josef-Strauss-Airport in Munich, southern Germany, on December 1, 2014, during a strike of pilots

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    World Trade Organization (WTO), Lufthansa, Germany
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