NIKI was driven into insolvency with the collapse of air berlin and withdrawl of support from Etihad. It was expected that the Austrian carrier would go to Lufthansa (specifically their low cost subsidiary Eurowings), but European competition regulators shut down that possibility.
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Ultimately British Airways parent IAG was left as the lone remaining company seeking to negotiate a purchase of assets. IAG is the parent of British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus, and Vueling as well as new transatlantic low cost carrier LEVEL. Such an acquisition would give IAG a Vienna base of operations.
NIKI’s founder Niki Lauda had sought to repurchase the airline out of insolvency, but withdrew his bid clearing the way for IAG. However courts ruled that the proceedings had to move from Germany to Austria. Bids were re-submitted.
“In the early hours of this morning Laudamotion GmbH emerged from a transparent bidding process as the best bidder,” Niki’s Austrian and German administrators, Ulla Reisch and Lucas Floether, said in a brief joint statement, referring to a company controlled by Lauda. They said they expected legal approval for the transaction to follow soon.
…“Of course, I am delighted,” Lauda said in an interview with Austrian broadcaster Oe24. “There’s no doubt that I have always put my heart and soul into Niki.”
He said he secured 15 aircraft and planned to bring Niki back into operation by end of March.
The former Formula 1 champion plans “to work with an operating partner such as Thomas Cook for functions previously provided by Air Berlin, such as ticket sales, crew planning and marketing.”
For its part, IAG says “IAG is disappointed that Niki will not be able to develop and grow stronger as part of the group.”