A newly formed subsidiary of IAG’s Spanish low-cost carrier Vueling, is to acquire the assets of Austrian leisure carrier Niki for €20 million and provide liquidity of up to €16.5 million. The new subsidiary will operate separately from Vueling initially, says IAG. The new company plans to employ around 740 former Niki employees to run the operation.
IAG chief executive Willie Walsh said that Niki was the most financially viable part of Air Berlin and its focus on leisure travel will suit Vueling. So the 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.
The Niki assets include up to 15 Airbus A320-family aircraft and slots at several airports including Vienna, Dusseldorf, Munich, Palma and Zurich. Niki, a subsidiary of insolvent Air Berlin, itself filed for insolvency on 13 December after Lufthansa dropped its plan to acquire the Austrian outfit.
The former Formula One champion Niki Lauda founded the airline in 2003. It was fully acquired by Air Berlin at the end of 2011. Lauda made a bid to repurchase Niki, but eventually lost out to IAG.