Since the bankruptcy of parent company AirBerlin Austrian discount/holiday airline Niki has taken quite the ride. First it was to be part of the Lufthansa Group, likely joining the Eurowings operation. That deal fell apart due to anti-trust concerns. Then IAG stepped in, offering to bring Niki into its Veuling LCC arm while still maintaining some independence in the operation. That deal was tossed out because it was only approved by a German judge and the core operations are in Austria.
Read More: Niki joins the Vueling family
The two courts appeared to agree on coordinating their efforts in the case, something that should’ve smoothed the process when bids were submitted anew. And it seems that the process was smoothed, but not in the expected manner. IAG reports that its bid was rejected this time around.
So, who owns Niki now?
It appears that the company may be returning to the hands of its founder, Niki Lauda, and his company Laudamotion. Lauda has pushed to regain control of his company at each stage of the bankruptcy process. He was rebuffed time and again. But now it appears that he finally realized the goal. Of course, calling anything a done deal at this point would seem a foolish choice given how soft each of the prior disposition announcements proved to be.
The cynic in me would suggest that Lauda used his influence with Austrian officials to skew some of the conversations around the proceedings, helping to scuttle the earlier deals. There is still a nationalistic pride about having a locally owned airline and Austria was about to lose that position. Assuming the Laudamotion deal goes through, Niki remains an Austrian operation.
Read More: The collapse of Niki
And there seems to be decent confidence that it can continue to operate successfully independently of a larger parent airline. That might just be wishful thinking given the consolidation trend and fare pressures, especially in Europe, but it seems that Niki (both the man and the airline) are now poised to find out.
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