ETF Airways To Sue Bremen For €1 million After 737 Rabbit Strike

Croatia’s ETF Airways intends to sue Bremen Airport for the damages it incurred after its Boeing 737 aircraft sucked a rabbit into its engine on the runway during landing and then fell out of service for 12 days. ETF’s CEO recently went around Bremen Airport to photograph the fence holes he believes will prove that the airport is liable.

ETF Airways Boeing 737-800 Croatia
ETF Airways intends to sue Bremen Airport because of the rabbit strike. Photo: IAC

From the rabbit strike to a lawsuit

ETF Airways, a startup charter airline from Croatia, is preparing a lawsuit against Bremen Airport (BRE) in Germany over the damages caused by a rabbit strike in August, as Simple Flying reported at the time.

The rabbit strike occurred on 2nd August 2021 when an ETF Boeing 737-800 registered as 9A-LAB sucked a rabbit into its right engine upon landing in Bremen. The incident has cost ETF Airways €1,000,000 ($1.13 million), and the airline believes the airport should pay for this.

The incident occurred at the height of the August charter season when ETF had plenty of contractual obligations to meet and only one other aircraft in its fleet. Remarkably, the airline did not cancel any flights despite 9A-LAB falling out of service for 12 full days.

The CEO of ETF Airways, Stjepan Bedić, personally spent five hours walking around Bremen Airport photographing the holes in the fence that he believes prove that the airport is liable.  Writing on his LinkedIn page, he said:

“Apparently, the airport thinks they are not liable, but they will be really surprised when they see in court what we have for them. They tried intimidation as well, but they don’t understand you can’t scare a team of people who spent a better part of their childhoods in bomb shelters.”

He also claims that the airport security tried to send him away while he was taking these photographs, allegedly shouting “Go Away! No rabbits here!”

ETF Airways Boeing 737
Pictured, the ETF Airways aircraft that struck the rabbit in Bremen. Photo: ETF Airways

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The details of the incident

The ETF Airways aircraft that struck a rabbit was operating a short flight from Dortmund Airport (DTM) to Bremen Airport at the time, as part of a triangle route Pristina-Dortmund-Bremen-Pristina.

Pristina Airport (PRN) is where this aircraft was based at the time, as ETF was operating daily charter flights out of there to the European cities rich with the Kosovar diaspora that was flying home to visit friends and relatives.

The 737 registered as 9A-LAB is called Voyager, and it was out of service for 12 whole days due to the rabbit strike.

The incredible €1,000,000 ($1,130,000) in damages as a result of this incident can be broken down as follows:

  • €500,000 ($563,000) in aircraft repair costs
  • €400,000 ($450,000) to lease replacement aircraft
  • €100,000 ($113,000) in other expenses that include crew transport, accommodation, and overtime
ETF Airways Boeing
ETF Airways leased various aircraft at short notice to meet its obligations. Photo: IAC

MD80, B767, and A321 came to the rescue

The replacement aircraft ETF Airways leased to maintain its contractual obligations were an interesting mix.

A 32-year McDonnell Douglas MD-82 jumped in to cover a series of rotations while the Voyager Boeing 737 was still stuck in Bremen in repairs.

Another interesting jump-in was a 26-year old Surinam Airways Boeing 767-35DER that operated flights to some Scandinavian and German destinations for a short period too.

ETF Airways did not cancel a single flight as a result of the rabbit strike, even with its own 9A-LAB aircraft being out of service for 12 days and despite the strike occurring at the height of the charter season in August.

Do you think ETF Airways should be suing Bremen Airport?