BA proprietor IAG to purchase bancrupt Austrian vacation airline Niki

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – British Airways’ proprietor IAG (ICAG.L) mentioned on Friday it will purchase Niki, Air Berlin’s (AB1.DE) bancrupt Austrian vacation airline, for 20 million euros ($24.01 million) and supply extra liquidity to the corporate of as much as 16.5 million euros.

The sale to IAG, which had been in unique talks for the airline, is the ultimate chapter within the demise of Air Berlin, the No. 2 German air service that beforehand owned Niki and filed for insolvency earlier this yr.

IAG mentioned Niki would turn into a part of the low-cost service Vueling and could be included in Austria, using 740 of Niki’s 1,000 former workers. Belongings embody 15 A320 plane and slots at airports together with Vienna, Dusseldorf, Munich, Palma and Zurich.

“Niki was essentially the most financially viable a part of Air Berlin, and its deal with leisure journey means it’s an amazing match with Vueling,” mentioned IAG’s chief government, Willie Walsh.

Niki filed for insolvency earlier this month after Germany’s Lufthansa (LHAG.DE) backed out of a deal to purchase its belongings on competitors considerations, grounding the fleet and stranding 1000’s of passengers.

Niki’s directors had been racing to discover a purchaser for its belongings earlier than it loses its takeoff and touchdown slots, its most engaging asset.

“Niki is getting a financially sturdy accomplice with a long-term improvement idea,” mentioned Lucas Floether, Niki’s insolvency administrator. The deal ought to shut in February, he mentioned.

The previous System One champion Niki Lauda based the airline in 2003. It was absolutely acquired by Air Berlin on the finish of 2011, based on the corporate’s web site, however saved the identify.

Lauda made a bid to repurchase Niki, together with a number of others, however finally misplaced out to IAG.

Air Berlin, beloved amongst Germans for its flights to the vacation island Mallorca and for the chocolate hearts it gave out after every flight, filed for administration in August. A authorities mortgage saved its planes within the air throughout negotiations on breaking it up.

Air Berlin agreed to promote a big a part of its airline belongings to Lufthansa. It additionally clinched a take care of Britain’s easyJet (EZJ.L) for some operations at Berlin Tegel.

Reporting by Tom Sims; Enhancing by Larry King

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