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Emirates should be allowed to fly to Berlin, says German exec

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Emirates airline campaign to secure flights to Berlin is gaining support

The bilateral air service agreement between Germany and the United Arab Emirates should be expanded to allow Dubai’s Emirates airline to operate direct flights to more cities, including the capital Berlin, a senior official from the Middle East office of the German National Tourist Board (GNTB) told AGBI.

Under the existing air services agreement between the two countries, airlines based in the UAE are allowed to operate to any four German cities. Dubai-based Emirates operates to Frankfurt, Munich, Düsseldorf and Hamburg, meaning the Dubai carrier would need to give up one of these cities in order to operate direct routes to Berlin.

“Emirates airline wants to get into Berlin, and the discussions are, for the last seven years, I think. We had Visit Berlin with us last year at our press conference at the Arabian Travel Market (ATM), and they also met Emirates airline again [and] they were very eager as well. But it’s very high levels, its political decisions,” Yamina Sofo, director of sales and marketing for the GCC at the German National Tourist Office (GNTO), an affiliate of the GNTB, told AGBI in an interview this week at the ATM in Dubai.

With a change in power at the Bundestag late last year, when Angela Merkel departed after 16 years in charge, and a coalition government under new chancellor Olaf Scholz taking over, Sofo is optimistic this may herald some positive news for UAE airlines on the landing rights issue.

“The demand is there. We have a new government since the end of last year so who knows what that could hopefully bring for us,” she said.

Speaking in 2019 at a media roundtable at the Dubai Airshow, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman and CEO of Emirates, said the airline might need some kind of incentive to entice it to fly to Berlin.

“If you want me to go somewhere I should be given an incentive why to fly to a point. In many countries they do. If they want you to fly there, they will give you an investment, I mean incentive, to fly,” he told reporters.

Germany has been a popular destination for GCC nationals, resulting in 518,516 overnight stays in Germany during 2021, an increase of 82.3 percent year-on-year. Through December, during the outbreak of the Omicron COVID variant, Germany recorded over 54,493 overnight stays from GCC nationals, an increase of 335 percent year-on-year.