Niki, Austria, Lufthansa, IAG, buy, airline, Lauda, deal, bid

Niki Lauda wins back his airline

The former racing driver wins bidding for Niki, the airline he founded in 2003.

The former racing driver Niki Lauda has won a battle for Niki, the airline he founded in 2003 but which later became a subsidiary of now-bankrupt Air Berlin.

An earlier agreement on a deal by IAG, parent of British Airways and Iberia, to buy parts of the leisure airline and roll them into a new Vueling subsidiary came to nothing.

This was because Austrian and German courts ruled that insolvency proceedings should be held in Austria, not in Air Berlin’s home country of Germany – which was where the IAG deal was made.

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

Niki was forced to stop flying in December when Lufthansa dropped its own bid to buy Niki when the German group fell foul of EU competition rules.

A thousand employees
This new deal with Lauda is reported to include Airbus A320s and some airport slots. Lauda says he will employ most of Niki’s 1,000-plus employees, but aviation analysts say this may not be viable.

IAG said in a statement that it was “disappointed” that Niki “will not be able to develop and grow stronger as part of the group”.

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