Lauda accuses Lufthansa of destroying Niki

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Former owner says Lufthansa is blocking Niki’s sale

Former racing driver Niki Lauda, founder of the Austrian low-cost carrier Niki, on Sunday accused German giant Lufthansa of trying to destroy it.

Previously a unit of the now bankrupt Air Berlin, Niki applied for insolvency last week and grounded its flights. The move came after Lufthansa abandoned plans to buy it.

Lauda, 68, said recently that he may be interested in buying back the airline, which he sold to Air Berlin in 2011.

But now he accuses Lufthansa of blocking Niki’s sale because it “wants to destroy” it, he told the newspaper Bild am Sonntag, as reported by AFP.

Valuable assets
Under EU rules, Lufthansa would have to give the carrier’s leased aircraft to a potential investor, but it has already bought up many of the planes, according to the Bild article.

“Without aircraft, the airline has no value,” Lauda says. “If there is no new investor, the take-off and landing slots are divided among the remaining airlines at the respective airports. That’s how Lufthansa gets what it wants, and for free.”

A Lufthansa spokesman denies the claim and says it is complying with the rules.

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