Airberlin’s Austrian arm NIKI has been flying and was kept out of bankruptcy even when the former parent collapsed, stopped flying and was eventually divided between Lufthansa and EasyJet.
Now, the talks of Lufthansa buying the NIKI has collapsed because European Commission wouldn’t have approved the sale due to Lufthansa having too great share of the Central European market. Austrian government has promised to repatriate all stranded passengers.
Here’s an excerpt from Deutsche Welle (access the piece here):
Austrian airline Niki has filed for bankruptcy protection after German carrier Lufthansa withdrew its takeover bid for the former Air Berlin subsidiary amid antitrust concerns voiced by the European Union.
A court in Berlin said Wednesday that Niki had applied to open insolvency proceedings, with the Austrian airline seeking to carry out procedures under its own administration. Although parent Air Berlin already filed for insolvency in August, Niki, which has a fleet of 21 Airbus aircraft, was not part of the proceedings.
“Lufthansa informed Air Berlin and its insolvency managers that it will pursue the planned transaction without the purchase of Niki,” Lufthansa said in a statement.
The move comes after the European Commission said last week it had “deep competition concerns” about Lufthansa’s plan to buy out 81 aircraft from Air Berlin’s 140-strong fleet plus Niki for €210 million ($250 million). EU regulators are especially worried about a likely dominance of Lufthansa in European skies following the takeover.
Here’s an excerpt from Reuters (access the piece here):
The Austrian government has agreed to repatriate any passengers of Air Berlin unit Niki stranded abroad by cancelled return flights, a Transport Ministry spokesman said on Wednesday.
Lufthansa has abandoned plans to buy Niki after the European Commission told Lufthansa that it would not allow the deal, meaning Niki could join the list of Europe’s collapsed airlines this year.
“(Chancellery Minister Thomas) Drozda, (Finance Minister Hans Joerg) Schelling and (Transport Minister Joerg) Leichtfried agreed to repatriate stranded passengers as quickly as possible,” the spokesman said.
This Airberlin – NIKI saga has been quite a mess, although bankruptcies usually are. NIKI was originally founded by the famous Formula 1 driver as Lauda Air.
Seems that the airline will cease its operations as of today unless there is a last minute bidder that can save it (doubtful).