OFFICIALS from Vienna International Airport (VIE) have threatened to sue upstart Slovak airline Sky Europe over promotional materials describing the airport as "congested".
In mid-November, VIE officials requested that Sky Europe remove the description from its brochures and web site by November 22, as well as threatening a 7,000 euro fine.
However, Sky Europe representatives say the description is backed by an Austrian Aviation Office study, and the suit is more about competition between the Vienna airport and Sky Europe's Bratislava hub.
"We view the letter from [the Vienna airport] and all the activity surrounding the lawsuit as part of a promotional campaign in Slovakia," said the head of Sky Europe, Christian Mandl.
"Vienna airport wants to become a travel centre for the whole of Europe, thus also for Slovaks," Mandl said.
Sky Europe began operating out of Bratislava's Milan Rastislav Štefánik airport last February as a low-cost carrier similar to US airline Southwest or Ireland's Ryanair.
The airline has also long promoted the Bratislava airport as a secondary air connection to Vienna, only 60 kilometres from the Slovak capital.
"This is a classic fight for customers. On some routes, for example [Bratislava] to Berlin, we have a 30 per cent share of Austrian travellers," said Sky Europe commercial director Pavol Mladý.
The Slovak airline currently operates two 30-seat Embraer 120 planes on eight routes and plans to buy two Boeing 737s next year.
2. Dec 2002 at 0:00 | From press reports of TASR and SITA