15 JANUARY 2018
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IAG parent company of British Airways and Iberia has confirmed it wants to buy Air Berlin’s Austrian leisure subsidiary Niki subject to a Court challenge by law firm Fairplane claiming the Air Berlin insolvency proceedings should be moved from Austria to Germany.
A price of €20m has been quoted including taking on 740 former staff and 15 Airbus A320-family aircraft.
IAG will provide additional liquidity to Niki of up to €16.5m and establish a new Austrian subsidiary of its Spanish low-cost carrier Vueling to house it. Vueling already operates just over 100 of the 320 series aircraft.
The deal also includes slots at Vienna, Düsseldorf, Munich, Palma and Zurich airports.
“Niki was the most financially viable part of Air Berlin and its focus on leisure travel means it’s a great fit with Vueling,” IAG chief executive Willie Walsh said. “This deal will enable Vueling to increase its presence in Austria, Germany and Switzerland.”
Niki ceased flying after Lufthansa dropped its offer to buy the airline from parent Air Berlin after it had become apparent the European competition authorities would not approve Niki’s integration into Lufthansa low-cost unit Eurowings. IAG quickly then became the favourite bidder although several other parties expressed an interest including the airline’s founder, former racing driver Niki Lauda. The acquisition is subject to regulatory approval.
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