Aviation German appeals court rules in favor of Etihad and Air Berlin By Robert Silk / January 15, 2016 Share 1 -- Air Berlin and Etihad Airways will be able to continue 26 of 31 disputed codeshare flights this winter following a ruling from a German court late Thursday. “The verdict sends a positive signal to our consumers and is a victory for increased competition in the German aviation market, meaning that German passengers can continue to enjoy freedom of choice," Air Berlin CEO Stefan Pichler said in a statement.The appeals court overturned a late December lower court ruling that the German Ministry of Transport was within its rights to end the codeshare routes, many of them long-hauls between the Middle East and Berlin. The flights aren’t covered under Germany’s bilateral air traffic agreement with the United Arab Emirates, the ministry had determined. Under the lower court ruling, the routes would have ceased today. Etihad, a 29% owner of Air Berlin, had accused the ministry of opposing the codeshare routes due to lobbying from Air Berlin’s biggest domestic rival, Lufthansa. The ministry originally approved 29 of the 31 disputed codeshares, but reversed course in 2014.Thursday’s appeals court ruling left in place a prohibition on five planned Air Berlin/Etihad codeshares, all of them on domestic German routes, according to Etihad. The fight over the codeshares has come amid ongoing disputes between Lufthansa and the rapidly growing Gulf carriers Etihad, Emirates and Qatar Airways.Like U.S. carriers American, Delta and United, Lufthansa has accused the Gulf carriers of benefiting from billions of dollars in government subsidies, giving them an unfair advantage in the international aviation marketplace. Lufthansa, joined by Air France KLM and backed by the German and French governments, has called on the European Commission to get tough on the Gulf carriers as it prepares to negotiate a Europe-wide open-skies agreement with the Gulf nations.