A group of Ukrainian NGOs, focusing on competition and the protection of economic freedoms, appealed to a Member of the European Parliament from the UK, Charles Tannock, for EP support in settling a dispute between the Ukrainian state-owned air carrier Dniproavia and German Lufthansa. According to the advocacy group, the ban on servicing Ukrainian-German routes against Dniproavia is both limiting access to affordable air-transportation for the inhabitants of Ukraine`s major industrial region of Dnipropetrovsk and forms conditions for the monopolization of the profitable air route by the German carrier.

The advocacy group, represented by the Private Investments Protection Association, the Public Committee for National Security, the Corporate Relations Research Center and the Energy Research Center also handed to the member of the European Parliament a copy of the appeal by Ukrainian MPs to their European counterparts calling for action in settling the airline clash.

NGO representatives called upon the European Parliament to investigate the matter of the Ukrainian-German aviation conflict, to ensure compliance with the Open Sky agreement and to initiate the revocation of Germany`s discriminatory ban against the Ukrainian air carrier.

"Our approach was to settle the conflict through negotiations but it didn`t work out" - the head of Public Committee for National Security, Oleksii Tolkachov, pointed out during the meeting - "Germany took very a stiff position, with full ban of the Ukrainian airline, so, as a result, it raised public protests in Ukraine".

Charles Tannock assured the representatives of the NGOs that he would raise the Dniproavia issue before the European Commission and the appropriate committee of the European Parliament.

The parties also signed a Joint Communique summarising the meeting results.

Conflict background

On January 2007 Ukrainian NGOs submitted a joint appeal on the conflict to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

The German government has supported Lufthansa since an October 2005 scheduling problem, when Lufthansa rejected DniproAvia`s confirmation of 5 of 6 Lufthansa-requested time slots. The sixth request was shifted by a few hours in order to fit into existing flights on the Dnipropetrovsk-Frankfurt am Main run.

The scheduling issue escalated in March 2006 when the German Federal Department of Civil Aviation (hereafter - LBA) revoked DniproAvia`s landing rights first at Frankfurt and then throughout Germany. The reasons given included Lufthansa`s scheduling problems and allegations that the airline had not been given a permit by the Ukrainian authorities for flights in the Summer 2006 period, though the information provided by Lufthansa to the LBA should show that the Ukrainian government did indeed act in a timely manner.

At the same time, Lufthansa unilaterally decided to stop servicing routes to Dnipropetrovsk. Thus the city has been without direct air links to Germany`s major cities for months. Ahis is not the first dispute between Lufthansa and a Ukrainian carrier. NGO experts believe the present conflict may be an attempt to monopolize the profitable routes from Dnipropetrovsk to Germany, and call the current attitude of the German aviation authorities towards the Ukrainian airlines "discriminatory".