airBaltic to appeal Lithuanian payout ruling

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Latvian national airline airBaltic will appeal against a Lithuanian court ruling that it must pay substantial compensation to a bankrupt former competitor, company spokesman Janis Vanags told LTV's Rita Panorama news show Friday morning.

A Lithuanian court has ordered airBaltic to pay €16 million euros to bankrupt former competitor FlyLAL, which claimed unfair competition that airBaltic strenuously denies.

Vanags said FlyLAL's interest in the case seemed to be based not on any genuine grievance but revived hopes that they might get a cash payout for nothing.

When their current business were going well, the former FlyLAL owners showed little interest in confronting airBaltic, but when they faced problems, their interest in legal action would suddenly revive, Vanags suggested.

"They look over the fence and see that if the neighbour is succeeding, you might be able to sue them," Vanags quipped.

Court cases between the two airlines have a long history, dating back even before FlyLAL went spectacularly bust in early 2009, an event that caused considerable embarassment as it happened during Lithuania's EU Presidency.

A previous Lithuanian court decision in 2008 even went so far as to order the seizure of airBaltic's headquarters at Riga airport - though the ruling was completely unenforceable as it was outside Lithuanian jurisdiction.

Since then the battle has continued in European courts and is likely to drag on for some time.

Meanwhile airBaltic continues to offer flights to over 60 destinations worldwide and remains a popular choice for Lithuanian travelers too. 

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