Dutch and Germans clash over Colombia cargo flights

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A row appears to be brewing between the Dutch and German governments over Lufthansa Cargo flights from Colombia, via Puerto Rico, into Amsterdam Schiphol.

The Dutch authorities claim the flights are illegal given the absence of a bilateral treaty between Colombia and the European Union and are taking business away from Dutch carrier Martinair, part of Air France-KLM Group. It operates direct flights from Bogota to Schiphol seven times per week.

However, Lufthansa Cargo argues that, as the flight is effectively from Puerto Rico, part of the USA, it falls under the 'open skies' agreement between the EU and the USA.

Talks between the aviation ministers from both countries were due to take place on 19 December. A spokeswoman for the Dutch ministry of infrastructure and environment said they were hoping to arrive at a "mutually acceptable solution" with the German government.

However, she warned that fines could be levied against Lufthansa Cargo if no agreement is reached.

Lufthansa Cargo denied that its twice-weekly flights were illegal. A spokesman said: "They are just normal flights within negotiated traffic rights."

Dutch carriers can also employ a similar strategy, he said. "Every Dutch airline is free to operate from Puerto Rico to Frankfurt," he added.