A Brussels court has ruled against Belgian carrier City Bird in its row with part-owner Sabena over last year's launch of services to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

City Bird has been ordered to pay Sabena nominal damages of a single Belgian franc, however, and the court found no grounds for the flag carrier to end a five-year contract under which it wet-leases two City Bird Boeing MD-11s.

The court ruled that City Bird had broken an agreement with Sabena in launching Brussels-Kinshasa flights, as it should have notified the latter of its plans to offer a rival scheduled service.

City Bird claimed it had the right to decide its own policies, and stressed that the Kinshasa route was operated on behalf of Congo flag carrier Lignes Aériennes Congolaises (LAC), to which it wet-leased a Boeing 767-300ER.

City Bird has discontinued operations for LAC because of mounting conflicts with the Congolese administration.

City Bird complained that Sabena had sought revenge by selling most of an 11.2% shareholding, causing City Bird shares to diminish in value.

Sabena says this transaction was a normal financial operation, and that it still held a 2.99% interest in City Bird.

Source: Flight International