Leading budget carrier Ryanair has filed competition complaints with the German competition regulator Bundeskartellamt and the European Commission regarding the "obvious conspiracy" playing out in Germany between the country's government and flag carrier Lufthansa to carve up struggling Air Berlin's assets.
On Tuesday (15 August) Air Berlin filed for insolvency after its main shareholder - Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways - withdrew its financial support. Ryanair claims the subsequent rescue bid excludes major competitors and ignores both EU competition and State Aid rules.
Overnight, a spokesperson for Air Berlin told IB Times UK its flights were continuing to "operate as normal" as the German government has stepped in to provide a temporary bridging loan, to support daily operations for three months, thought to be around €150m (£137m).
It also emerged that Air Berlin is in advanced talks with rival Lufthansa for the sale of some aspects of its business as it already leases aircraft to the German flag carrier.
However, in a statement Ryanair noted: "Given the fact that the German Government is centrally involved in these manoeuvres, the Bundeskartellamt is likely to struggle to get out of bed.
"On this basis, and bearing in mind the scale of the market shares and the European implications involved, it is all the more important that the European Commission takes immediate and decisive action."
It alleged that the "manufactured" insolvency is being set up to allow Lufthansa to take over a debt-free Air Berlin, which will be in breach of "all known German and EU competition rules."
Ryanair said measures taken by the German government effectively amount to state aid courtesy which "Lufthansa can acquire Air Berlin and drive domestic air fares in Germany even higher than they already are. German customers and visitors will suffer higher air fares to pay for this Lufthansa monopoly."
Neither the German government nor Lufthansa have commented on Ryanair's assertion.