Thursday 17 January 2019

International Airlines Group to buy assets of Austrian airline Niki

IAG chief executive Willie Walsh
IAG chief executive Willie Walsh
Ellie Donnelly

Ellie Donnelly

Aer Lingus owner International Airlines Group (IAG) is to buy the assets of the Austrian airline Niki for €20m.

In addition IAG will provide liquidity to Niki for up to €16.5m.

Founded in 2003 by former racing car driver Niki Lauda, Niki was formerly part of the Air Berlin group, which filed for insolvency in August last year.

The transaction is being made by a newly formed subsidiary of the Spanish low-cost airline Vueling, which will be incorporated as an Austrian company and run initially as a separate operation.

The assets include up to 15 A320 family aircraft, as well as an attractive slot portfolio at various airports including Vienna, Dusseldorf, Munich, Palma and Zurich.

The new company plans to employ approximately 740 former NIKI employees to run the operation.

Commenting on the announcement, Willie Walsh, IAG CEO, described Niki as "the most financially viable part of Air Berlin",

"Its focus on leisure travel means it's a great fit with Vueling. This deal will enable Vueling to increase its presence in Austria, Germany and Switzerland and provide the region's consumers with more choice of low cost air travel," Mr Walsh said.

The deal is subject to the normal closing conditions such as the European Commission competition approval.

Last month the European Commissioner cleared a deal allowing Lufthansa to buy insolvent Air Berlin's subsidiary LGW, after it agreed to give up some runway slots.

Lufthansa had also planned to buy Niki along with LGW, but dropped its bid for Niki after the Commission indicated it would block the purchase.

(Additional reporting from Reuters).

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