Niki Lauda Winning Bidder For Niki Airline

January 23, 2018

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Austrian former racing driver Niki Lauda has won the battle for bankrupt Air Berlin unit Niki, an airline he started in 2003.

Niki’s joint administrators on Tuesday selected Lauda’s Laudamotion company as “best bidder” for the Vienna-based airline, subject to legal approval. The purchase price was not disclosed.

Niki was forced to stop flying in December after Lufthansa dropped its offer to buy the leisure airline to get EU competition approval for its takeover of other parts of Air Berlin.

British Airways and Iberia parent IAG stepped in late in December to agree a deal with Niki’s administrators to acquire parts of the defunct airline and roll them into a new Vueling subsidiary.

The agreement unravelled, however, when courts in Austria and Germany ruled insolvency proceedings should be held in Austria rather than Air Berlin’s home country Germany where the IAG deal was struck.

The deal is reported to include Airbus A320 aircraft and some airport slots. Lauda said he would employ most of Niki’s 1,000 plus staff, but with Laudamotion seeking a partner to provide back office support, that number may well be revised down.