Air Berlin denied a report that its major shareholder Etihad Airways is pushing for the German airline to find a new permanent chief executive quickly.
German monthly Manager Magazin said in an excerpt of an article to be published on Friday that James Hogan, chief executive of Abu Dhabi-based Etihad, wanted a manager at the helm of Germany's second-biggest airline, who had more aviation experience than current chief Hartmut Mehdorn.
"The report is nonsense and completely unfounded," a spokesman for Air Berlin said.
Etihad, which owns almost 30 percent of Air Berlin, said it saw the report as "extremely scurrilous and irresponsible."
"Etihad Airways and Air Berlin have a very strong relationship which is starting to show positive progress. Both airlines are wholly committed to its long-term success," a spokesman for Etihad said.
Mehdorn, the former head of German rail operator Deutsche Bahn, was appointed as interim CEO of Air Berlin a year ago, when former chief Joachim Hunold unexpectedly quit, having failed to return the carrier to profit. Mehdorn's contract has since been extended until the end of 2013.
Air Berlin, which has not posted a full-year operating profit since 2007, has already cut seats, unprofitable routes and postponed aircraft orders to reduce costs and shrink its way back to profitability after racking up debts to expand.
Earlier this month, it reported a rise in its second-quarter net loss to EUR€66.2 million (USD$82.5 million) and said shareholder equity, or net worth, had dropped by two thirds to EUR€101 million as at the end of June.