IAG (the parent of British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus, Vueling and Level) today purchased NIKI the Austrian airline that filed for bankruptcy protection and ceased flying on December 14, 2017, after negotiations with Lufthansa buying the airline dried up.
IAG is paying less than 40 million euros for the airline in cash and liquidity where Lufthansa was willing to pay more than 200. NIKI (or whatever the airline will be called) will become subsidiary of Vueling (expect no service of any kind on board).
Here’s an excerpt from the Financial Times (access their piece here):
The new company, to be a subsidiary of IAG’s low-cost carrier Vueling, will employ about 740 former Niki employees to run the operation.
Willie Walsh, IAG chief executive, said: “Niki was the most financially viable part of Air Berlin and 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.”
And here’s from Reuters (access their piece here):
British Airways’ owner IAG (ICAG.L) said on Friday it would buy Niki, Air Berlin’s (AB1.DE) insolvent Austrian holiday airline, for 20 million euros ($24.01 million) and provide additional liquidity to the company of up to 16.5 million euros.
Niki’s administrators had been racing to find a buyer for its assets before it loses its takeoff and landing slots, its most attractive asset.
The former Formula One champion Niki Lauda founded the airline in 2003. It was fully acquired by Air Berlin at the end of 2011, according to the company’s website, but kept the name.
And this purchase closes the Air Berlin collapse saga, although the Topbonus loyalty program without an airline is still trying to restart itself (without much of a success).
It has been quite a tumultuous year for airlines in Europe. Alitalia filed for administration and is currently funded by the Italian tax payers until the end of the winter schedule and the Monarch of UK recently collapsed.
Let’s hope that IAG will have success with their Austrian Vueling subsidiary. It never hurts to have some competition on Lufthansa’s backyard.