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7JetSet7 Code: NKI
Status: Operational
Region: EUROPE
Country: AUSTRIA
Employees 641
Telephone: +43 1 7007 32043
Fax: +43 1 7007 32049

Click below for data links:
NKI-2009-06 1ST EMB-190
NKI-2016-03 - Vienna to Faro.jpg
NKI-2016-03 Chart Top 15 Routes by ASKs.jpg
NKI-2018-01 FC and CA to PMI.jpg
NKI-2018-03 Laudamotion Launch.jpg
NKI-2018-06 FC to PMI.jpg
NKI-2018-06 HAJ to PMI.jpg
NKI-2018-06 To Vienna.jpg

Formed and started operations in 2003. A K A "NL LUFTFAHRT." International, scheduled, passenger, jet airplane services.

NL Luftfahrt,
Objekt 610
Vienna A-1300, Austria

Austria was established in 1918, covers an area of 83,856 sq km, its capital city is Vienna, has a population of 8.5 million, and the official language is German.

October 2003: Aero Lloyd (ACH) subsidiary, Aero Lloyd Austria, is on the verge of having Niki Lauda, 53, (who had to sell off his namesake Lauda Air to Austrian Airlines (AUL) nearly 3 years ago) re-enter the airline business (including a majority stake - minimum 51%) by making Aero Lloyd Austria into a low-cost budget airline (NKI). Niki Lauda is reknowned as a former world champion Grand Prix driver. Currently operates 1 A320 and 3 A321's on behalf of package-tour operators. Since 3 of the airplanes are under German registry, Lauda could conceivably start up operations from Germany with relatively little delay.

November 2003: In a German radio broadcast interview, Niki Lauda stated that flight operations of "NIKI" (the renamed Aero Lloyd Austria) will start with 1 A320 daily services between Vienna and the Canary Islands on behalf of package tour operators the airline has worked with before. 3 other airplanes will follow in the coming months. The Lauda name cannot be used, as the Austrian Airlines Group holds the rights to that name.

NIKI (NKI), Vienna - Lanzarote - Fuerteventura (weekly). Vienna - Tenerife (weekly). Salzburg - Fuerteventura - Tenerife (weekly). Salzburg - Las Palmas (weekly). Vienna - Las Palmas (2/week). In December 2003, Vienna - Funchal - Tenerife (weekly). Vienna - Luxor - Hurghada (weekly). In February 2004, to operate for Thomas Cook Austria/Neckermann Reisen Austria from Graz, Innsbruck, Linz, Salzburg, and Vienna, to Greece, Iceland, Portugal, Spain, and Turkey.

Aero Lloyd (ACH) may be reborn next spring 2004, in a slimmed-down form with only 6 airplanes and a new name as a low-fare airline with a new business plan. The investor who intends to make this possible is travel-industry entrepreneur, Bogomir Gradisnik, 82, co-founder and former part-owner of (ACH). He will invest EUR 30 million/$37.2 million to launch the new airline, which will be named Aero Flight (AEF). (ACH) has leased 6 A320's to USA tour operators through April 2004, and another through October 2004.

January 2004: NIKI (NKI), Vienna - Jerez de la Frontera - Malaga - Vienna (weekly). In February 2004, Linz - Palma de Mallorca (weekly).

Austrian "N L Luftfahrt" and Air Berlin (BER) have formed an alliance and (BER) has acquired 24% of Niki Lauda's shares in NIKI (NKI). (BER) will be providing its services to look after sales and route marketing as well as logistics. The primary objective of the co-operation is to jointly open up the Austrian and eastern European markets. (NKI) is currently operating an A320, 174Y PAX, and an A321, 210Y PAX, from Vienna and Salzburg to the Canaries, Madeira, and Egypt. Another 2 A320's will be added in April 2004, signaling the start of operations as a low-cost carrier.

April 2004: A321-231 (1421) leased to Onur Air (ONU).

May 2004: Salzburg - Irakleion (2/week). Vienna - Malaga - Jerez de la Frontera - Vienna (weekly). Vienna - Alicante (2/week). Salzburg - Tenerife (weekly). Graz - Irakleion (weekly). Innsbruck - Salzburg - Irakleion - Innsbruck (weekly). Linz - Corfu (weekly); - Tenerife (weekly); - Las Palmas (weekly). Vienna - Santorini (weekly). Linz, Vienna - Irakleion (weekly). Salzburg, Vienna - Fuerteventura (weekly). Salzburg - Ibiza (weekly). Vienna - Arrecife (weekly). Salzburg - Faro - Malaga (weekly). Vienna - Malaga - Faro - Vienna (weekly). Vienna - Graz - Kos - Vienna (weekly). Linz, Salzburg - Rhodes (weekly); - Thessaliniki (weekly); - Snatorini (weekly). Vienna - Rome (FCO), Warsaw, & Zurich (daily). In June 2004, Innsbruck - Graz - Kos - Innsbruck; Vienna - Mytilini - Kos - Vienna (weekly). In July 2004, Vienna - Keflavik (weekly).

2 A320-232's (659; 1459) & A321-231 (1438) deliveries.

June 2004: Vienna Airport is investing EUR 722 million/$866 million in an expansion program that includes a new terminal called SkyLink that should be operational in 2008. The cost of SkyLink, the 1st part of the investment, is around EUR 280 million. The terminal will offer 51 gates including 17 with air bridges, along with 96 check-in counters. With SkyLink and the existing terminal facilities, (VIE) will be able to handle 28 million passengers/year.

In November 2004, Vienna - London Stansted (STN) (A320, 2/day) and Salzburg - Nuremberg (weekly), in cooperation with Air Berlin (BER).

August 2004: Selected Lufthansa (DLH) Systems' integrated system solution MultiHost.

September 2004: In winter, to add Porto and Lisbon to its network.

October 2004: In February 2005, Vienna - Paris (4/week). Plans call for the addition of London, Rome, Warsaw, & Zurich.

2003 = 970,000 passengers (PAX).

A321 returned to lessor. 2 orders A320's for summer season 2005.

November 2004: $6.6 billion, Air Berlin (BER) and its low-fare partner NIKI (NKI) (Air Berlin (BER) has a 24% stake) 70/40 orders (9/05) A320's, 174Y, including 60 for (BER) & 10 for (NKI).

January 2005: In February 2005, Vienna - Paris (CDG) (4/week).

Carried 940,000 passengers in 1st year. Projects +10% for 2005.

A320-212 (990, EI-DIU), ex-Volare (VLR), SALE (SIL) leased.

June 2005: Projects 2004 to increase passengers from 940,000 to 1M. Intends to add another (6th) A320, one year earlier than scheduled. Now operates from bases in Vienna and Salzburg and is looking for opening a 3rd hub, possibly in Bratislava.

July 2005: Vienna - Nuremberg (2/day).

September 2005: A320-214 (2529, OE-LEA), delivery.

December 2005: Styrian Spirit (CEO), Otmar Lenz is leaving the airline after three years in charge, to become Managing Director of NIKI (NKI), the Austrian low-fare carrier. He will be reunited with former boss Niki Lauda, with whom Lenz was one of the founders of Lauda Air (LAL).

Separately, Styrian Spirit will start 6x-weekly Graz - Salzburg - Paris service from December 15.

Meanwhile, NIKI (NKI) will open its third hub in Austria in summer 2006 and will base one A320 at Linz. The Air Berlin (ABL) partner also will add Funchal to its network.

Futura International Airways (FUA) CEO, Roman Pane and Britannia Nordic (TNS) Managing Director Goran Gardo were elected President and Vice-President, respectively, of the (IACA) Annual General Meeting (AGM). The organization also ratified five new airline members: Arkefly (HOL), Edelweiss Air (EDE), Hapag-Lloyd Express (HLX), NIKI (NKI), and Nouvelair (NOU).

January 2006: Otmar Lenz, co-Managing Director, ex-Lauda Air (LAL) CEO, and Styrian Spirit, alonside existing Managing Director, Michael Frahm.

February 2006: Austrian low-fare airline NIKI (NKI) is planning to add A319s to its fleet of four A320s and one A321 in order to access new markets. "Currently we take delivery of our new A320s to phase out leased airplanes. With the A319 from 2007, we can operate nonstop services from Vienna to Barcelona, increase frequencies to Palma and look for new markets in Italy like Milan and also to Amsterdam," founder and majority owner Niki Lauda said. The carrier has two A320-200s on order. It also plans to increase its activities in the Austrian charter market for the winter 2006 - 2007 season, which Lauda said is "underserved from the Austrian Group." NIKI (NKI) expects to fly 1.2 million passengers this year.

A320-214 (2668, OE-LEO "SOUL"), delivery.

April 2006: A320-214 (2749, OE-LEE), delivery.

May 2006: NIKI (NKI) plans to start using Vienna Airport as a hub early next year when the Austrian Low-Cost Carrier (LCC) launches daily flights to Moscow. "Air Berlin will feed us with flights from six German destinations to Vienna and on to Moscow. This is just the beginning for us to Eastern Europe," founder Niki Lauda said in Palma de Mallorca. Air Berlin (BER) owns a 24% stake in NIKI (NKI), which soon will decide which Moscow airport it will serve. Lauda said his airline is considering other Eastern European destinations, including St Petersburg, while planning new services from Vienna to Milan and possibly Barcelona and from Milan to Air Berlin's Palma hub. "We will add a sixth A320 to our fleet sooner than scheduled, by November this year. Our first 170-seat A319 will join the fleet in March 2007," Lauda said.

August 2006: (LTU) German Airlines Managing Director, Juergen Marbach said the leisure airline's cooperation with dba (DBA) will continue after the latter is acquired by Air Berlin (BER).

(LTU) will maintain its program of network expansion, focusing on the long-haul side. Marbach said that in the past six months, all synergies with dba (DBA) have been realized with savings expected to reach double-digit million euros.

Air Berlin (BER) partner, Niki Lauda (NKI) said that (BER) has no plans to take over (LTU), which like dba (DBA) is controlled by Hans Rudolf Woehrl. "I don't believe that makes sense, because [long-haul] is not the core business for Air Berlin (BER)," Lauda said. He added that (BER)'s acquisition of dba (DBA) will benefit his NIKI (NKI) Low Cost Carrier (LCC) "because my partner Air Berlin (BER) gets stronger. And that's good for us."

A320-214 (2867, OE-LEX "Jazz"), delivery.

September 2006: NIKI (NKI) will start a double-daily Vienna - Frankfurt service October 30 using A320s. NIKI (NKI) and partner Air Berlin (BER) transported about 1 million passengers from Austria to six German cities last year, and NIKI (NKI) had a passenger increase of +15% across its network in the first half of 2006. It added the sixth A320 Wednesday. Founder, Niki Lauda told this website that he will launch new Vienna - Moscow flights for the 2007 summer schedule.

A320-214 (2902, OE-LEU), delivery.

November 2006: NIKI (NKI) will increase Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) of one of its A320s to 77 tons from 75 tons, so it can operate nonstop service from Vienna to Dubai. "That will give us 45 extra minutes of range," founder Niki Lauda said. NIKI (NKI) plans to operate at least eight charter flights to Dubai beginning December 21. Partner Air Berlin (BER) will feed the service from several German destinations.

March 2007: Starting March 30th, Vienna - Moscow (DME), using A319s/A320s.

A319-132 (3019, OE-LEK), delivery.

April 2007: NIKI (NKI), the Austrian low-cost carrier and Air-Berlin (BER) partner, took delivery of its first (CFM56-5B)-powered A319, the first A320 family airplane fitted with Airbus (EDS)'s enhanced cabin that is derived from the A380, and features +15% more bin volume, more passenger space at shoulder level, enhanced lighting and noise reduction features. On board the delivery flight, President, Niki Lauda said that (NKI) continues to achieve +30% annual passenger growth. "Our turnover in 2006 was €145 million/$193.2 million, we transported 1.3 million passengers and reached a load factor of 82.5% LF," he said, adding that NIKI (NKI) will present positive financial results for 2006. The airline expects to transport 1.7 million passengers this year with revenue of €190 million, thanks in part to the launch of daily Vienna - Moscow Domodedovo services and increasing frequencies on the existing network.

Together with Air-Berlin (BER), which recently acquired (LTU), NIKI (NKI) is exploring the introduction of long-haul flights. "We are evaluating this constantly but there are no ideal long-haul airplanes like the A330 available on the market, so I guess not until 2009," Lauda said. "I prefer to grow conservatively." NIKI (NKI) operates five A320s, one A321 and the new A319. It plans to add at least one airplane in each of the next three years. Meanwhile, Airbus (EDS) said the enhanced cabin will be available "from now on" and next will be delivered to Vueling Airlines (VUZ).

October 2007: NIKI (NKI) will add two A320s to its fleet, as soon as possible, in order to open new routes from Vienna (VIE) to Milan Malpensa, Warsaw, Sophia, Bucharest Otopeni and Istanbul Ataturk, founder Niki Lauda said. He said he needs the additional airplanes to compete with SkyEurope Airlines (SKP)'s enhanced (VIE) service.

November 2007: Jordan Aircraft Maintenance Ltd (JorAMCo), announced a five-year Maintenance Repair & Overhaul (MRO) agreement, covering medium and heavy checks on NIKI (NKI)'s fleet of A320 family airplanes, including those yet to arrive. (JorAMCo) said NIKI (NKI) has six in operation and will take two A320s next year and several more thereafter. The (MRO) already had a European presence thanks to its contract with Vueling Airlines (VUZ), and it has started working on TUIfly (HAP)/(HLX)/(TUG) airplanes as well.

January 2008: In 2007, NIKI (NKI) carried around 1.7 million passengers.

NIKI (NKI), the Austrian low-fare airline that is part of the air-berlin (BER) group, converted 10 options on A320 family airplanes into firm orders, as its profits continued to rise. "We will take delivery of the new airplanes from 2010 onwards. For every airplane, a year ahead [of delivery] we decide if we need an A319, A320 or A321," Chairman, founder & owner, Niki Lauda said.

NIKI (NKI)'s fleet will increase by 2014 to 20 airplanes. The value of the new order is €500 million/$734.7 million. Lauda said the carrier's 2007 profit doubled to more than >€1 million, as it transported 1.7 million passengers, up +30% from 2006. He expects a further revenue increase in 2008, to €220 million from €186 million, and a profit of +€2.1 million.

The carrier currently operates eight A320 family airplanes, increasing to nine in May. It will launch a twice-daily, Vienna - Milan Malpensa, and a daily Vienna - Belgrade service in March. "We will also increase services on some routes to thrice-daily to satisfy our business (C) customers," Lauda said.

The air-berlin (BER) group holds 24% in the Austrian carrier NIKI (NKI). (BER) and NIKI (NKI) have become No 1 for the first time for flights between Austria and Germany. They operate on nine routes with 300 weekly flights, ahead of both Lufthansa (DLH) and Austrian Airlines (AUL).

air-berlin (BER) said its largest single investor, Vatas, has increased its share from 15.4% to 18.6%.

February 2008: NIKI (NKI) took delivery of its second A319-112 (3407, OE-LED). By May, the Austrian Low Cost Carrier (LCC) will operate nine A320 family airplanes.

April 2008: NIKI (NKI) will add its ninth airplane, a 212-seat A321, on May 9 and has an additional nine A320 family airplanes on order for delivery by 2014. "The average age of the fleet is now between 1.5 and two years," founder and majority owner Niki Lauda said. "Despite high oil prices, which constitute 28% of all our costs, I expect another positive year."

NIKI (NKI) will begin serving Stockholm Arlanda on May 1 and is looking at routes from Vienna scheduled to be abandoned by loss-making SkyEurope Airlines (SKP). "We are evaluating Vienna - Innsbruck services, a route that creates 240,000 passengers annually. As a Low Cost Carrier (LCC), we look for new routes where there is potential of around 100,000 passengers to travel over a year," Lauda said. As a partner of airberlin (BER), NIKI (NKI) also has launched feeder flights to Dusseldorf to support (BER)/(LTU)'s long-haul network. A pilot (FC) himself, Lauda just received his type rating for the A330, but he does not see long-haul flights from (VIE) as practical for at least another year. "We can only do this when we have enough feeder traffic into Vienna," he said.

May 2008: NIKI (NKI) operates jet airplane services to leisure destinations in Europe and Egypt from Vienna, Salzburg, and Friedrichshafen on behalf of tour operator Neckermann Reisen.

Employees = 291 (including 80 Flict Crew (FC), 150 Cabin Attendants (CA), 40 Maintenance Technicians (MT), and 21 in head office).

(IATA) Code: HG. (ICAO) Code: NLY (Callsign - FLYNIKI).

Parent organization/shareholders: Niki Lauda (76%), and airBerlin (BER) (24%).

Alliances: airBerlin (BER).

Main Base: Vienna International Airport (VIE).

International, Scheduled Destinations: Fuerteventura; Lanzarote; Las Palmas; Lison; London; Nuremberg; Palma de Mallorca; Paris; Rome; Tenerife; & Zurich.

Niki (NKI) took delivery of a new 212-seat A321-211 (3504, OE-LES). It now operates nine A320 family airplanes, including an A320 leased from Vueling Airlines (VUZ). President, Niki Lauda said that the carrier expects to transport 2.2 million passengers this year, up +29.4% from 2007, and operate 20 A320s by 2019. He said the new airplanes will be financed over a 12-year period, with 80% coming from banks, and the remainder from the carrier's own cash.

July 2008: At the Farnborough Air Show, Niki placed a firm order for five Embraer EMB-190s plus options for another five. The deal is valued at $187.5 million but could double if all options are confirmed. Deliveries are set to begin in May through June 2010. Founder & President, Niki Lauda said the airplanes would be used to add frequencies and "break into new destinations." They will be configured in a single class with 112Y "slim seats" that are thinner and use less material than those usually installed on EMB-Jets.

Niki (NKI) carried 2.5 million passengers in 2007 with its fleet of nine A319s/A320s. Lauda said it made a +$3.5 million profit last year. AirBerlin (BER) holds a 24% stake in the airline, which was founded in 2004. Lauda is the former owner of Lauda Air (LAL), which was sold to Austrian Airlines (AUL).

October 2008: S7 Airlines (SBR), AirBerlin (BER), and Niki (NKI) announced a code share agreement in Moscow and promised that "all three airlines intend to deepen their relationship in other areas in the future." The agreement initially covers flights from Moscow Domodedovo to Frankfurt, Hannover (both operated by S7 (SBR)), Dusseldorf, Munich (both operated by S7 (SBR) and (BER)) and Vienna (operated by Niki (NKI)). The airlines "plan to offer unrestricted sales of tickets for each others' flights" and passengers will have access to all three networks with one ticket. Talks among the trio began five months ago.

S7 (SBR) CEO, Vladislav Filev would not say whether the agreement might lead to an investment in either (BER) or Niki (NKI), saying that was "not on today's agenda." He also would not comment on S7 (SBR)'s interest in Austrian Airlines (AUL), saying only that "we have many invitations for partnerships." None of those offers have come from an alliance, however. "As of today, we have no invitation from any alliance. Everyone wants us, but we will see how hungry they are. Maybe Star (SAL) will become hungrier," Filev said.

Meanwhile, Niki (NKI) President, Niki Lauda expressed excitement about new opportunities in Russia. "The time is right to expand our Vienna - Moscow services to double-daily, starting in the spring of next year," he said. "As soon as we have traffic rights we will start Vienna - St Petersburg. Air Berlin (BER) CEO, Joachim Hunold and I created the first low-cost airline alliance. Now I am happy that S7 (SBR) will help in Russia."

January 2009: Niki (NKI)'s partnership with S7 Airlines (SBR) continues to be delayed by Russian regulators, CEO, Othmar Lenz said. "(SBR) needs traffic rights between Moscow Domodedovo and Vienna. If (SBR) gets these rights, then we can implement code share operations," Lenz said. Bilateral talks should be completed next month. The partnership also includes Air Berlin (BER), which holds 24% of (NKI) and made news last week following the sale of lead investor Len Blavatnik's 18.94% stake. (NKI) President, Niki Lauda said he does not know who bought the (BER) shares and that Etihad Airways (EHD)'s potential involvement remains "a sort of rumor." Blavatnik owned the stake in (BER) through Dutch investment company AI Aviation Cooperatief.

Lauda expects a 2008 profit, but said 2009 "will be a horror year for all of us." Niki will take delivery of its first EMB-190 on schedule in May and operate it on routes from Vienna to Munich and Innsbruck, but on the whole it will "have to be flexible and make decisions . . . faster than other carriers," Lauda said, adding that a second A321 also has been financed and is due for delivery this year. (NKI) transported 2.2 million passengers in 2008, up +30% year-over-year, with 60% coming from scheduled traffic and the remainder from charter. It will operate 12 airplanes this year.

Meanwhile, (BER) CEO, Joachim Hunold said his airline will prepare an official complaint to the European Commission (EC) protesting Lufthansa (DLH)'s takeover of Austrian Airlines (AUL). Lauda said that Brussels may impose certain competition restrictions against the Star Alliance (SAL) partners.

February 2009: Niki (NKI) was able to increase January passenger volume at its Vienna (VIE) hub by +42.7% year-over-year, taking advantage of a weakened Austrian Airlines Group (AAG). Against the current downturn, President, Niki Lauda said (NKI) is targeting expansion. "We are not spending our time complaining about the crisis . . . People and companies are cutting expenses. With our low-cost tickets we are offering them just what they want, which enables us to keep growing," he said, adding that (NKI) is the only important airline at (VIE) planning a significant capacity increase. "Based on our positive performance and a passenger increase of more than >30% in 2008, we will again boost our share of traffic," he said.

(NKI) will target a 12% market share at the airport this year, which when combined with partner Air Berlin (BER)'s share will top 20%. For the summer schedule, it will double (VIE) - Rome Fiumicino frequencies to twice-daily and add new thrice-weekly, (VIE) - Malaga and Innsbruck - Palma flights. An A320 based at Graz will operate five-times-weekly to Palma.

(NKI) will take delivery of one EMB-190 in May and a second in June. A new A321 will enter service next month, bringing (NKI)'s fleet to 12 airplanes. It plans to add +500 jobs by mid-year.

March 2009: Niki (NKI) posted a profit of +€7.1 million/+$9.6 million in 2008, up +103% on the prior year, President, Niki Lauda said, on +25% year-over-year increases in revenue to €229 million and passenger numbers to 2.1 million. "All in all, 2008 was a record year for us. And I also expect a good 2009," he said, adding that (NKI) will benefit from Austrian Airlines (AUL)'s struggles. "In the first two months of this year, we had a passenger growth rate in Vienna of +40% for each month compared to 2008," he said. Vienna airport (VIE) suffered a -14.3% decline in passenger numbers through the first two months overall, and now every 10th passenger there travels with (NKI). (NKI) is targeting a +30% increase in passengers this year and plans to add two EMB-190s and one A321, bringing the fleet to 12 airplanes. It will add +150 employees, a +43% increase.

Lauda is looking to derive further benefits from (NKI)'s partnerships with Air Berlin (BER) and S7 Airlines (SBR) and is scheduled to speak with Russian authorities on April 6 regarding traffic rights. "If everything works out, we will immediately start code share flights with (SBR) from Vienna to Moscow [Domodedovo] and beyond on (SBR)," he said. (NKI) already is benefiting from increased traffic on its flights to Palma de Mallorca, a (BER) hub.

(BER) is operating its city-to-city routes under the "City-Shuttle" brand in cooperation with (NKI).

A321-211 (3830, OE-LET), delivery.

May 2009: Niki (NKI) said it has derived significant benefits from the weakness of Austrian Airlines (AUL), and it also is involving itself in its larger rival's privatization process. "In the first quarter of 2009, our passenger numbers increased +34% compared to the same period last year. We are seeing a caravan of passengers not wanting to pay higher fares moving to us," President, Niki Lauda said.

(NKI) filed an official complaint with European competition authorities regarding the €500 million/$697.4 million in state aid required as part of Lufthansa (DLH)'s takeover of Austrian (AUL). Lauda insisted that Brussels offer certain guarantees, such as increased traffic rights to Eastern Europe, to level the playing field. He also wants more slots at Vienna, especially in the early morning.

Speaking during the delivery ceremony for Niki's first EMB-190, he said (NKI) will save up to -20% operating the Brazilian airplane compared to a comparably sized F 100. "When we open a new route with an A320, we have to invest up to €2 million for a period of up to two years to make a new destination profitable. With the EMB-190, we can reduce these costs down to €300,000 to €400,000," he noted.

June 2009: Niki (NKI) took delivery of the first of five EMB-190s (0285, OE-IHA) on firm order. President, Niki Lauda said that the jets will be used initially on flights from Vienna to Innsbruck and Munich and eventually to open new routes. (NKI) also holds five EMB-190 options - - SEE ATTACHED - - "NKI-1ST EMB-190-JUN09."

EMB-190-100 LRs (0285, OE-IHA; 0294, OE-IHB), deliveries - - SEE PHOTO - - "NKI-EMB-190-JUN09."

July 2009: Niki (NKI) wants 50% of the traffic rights between Vienna and Eastern Europe if Lufthansa (DLH)'s acquisition of the Austrian Airlines Group (AAG) is confirmed, President, Niki Lauda said. "So far, the (AAG) has all the traffic rights to Eastern Europe, except our daily, Vienna - Moscow (DME) service," Lauda said. "We have no idea how and if the merger will be completed. My company has to answer an additional 40 question from the European Commission (EC) regarding the process" by July 27. While investigating the potential (DLH)/(AAG) tie-up, Brussels is looking to assure "that passengers can also choose to travel cheaply" on affected routes, he said. If Niki (NKI) does secure additional rights, it will add A320 family airplanes. "At the moment, we can't go forward with our fleet upgrade if there is no clear message from Brussels. But it is easy to get airplanes these days," he said.

S7 Airlines (SBR) and (NKI) announced a code share deal under which (NKI) will place its code on (SBR)'s six-times-weekly, A319/A320 Moscow Domodedovo - Vienna flights.

September 2009: Niki (NKI) CEO, Otmar Lenz confirmed that (NKI) will look to expand into areas that lost service as a result of SkyEurope (SKP)'s demise. (NKI) will launch daily flights from Vienna to Sophia, Brussels, and Bucharest (airport undecided) for the winter schedule. "Of course we will look at (SKP)'s whole network [from Vienna], but opening additional routes depends on how fast we can add additional airplanes," Lenz said. (NKI) also will increase flights to Paris Charles de Gaulle and Frankfurt using slots relinquished by Lufthansa (DLH) following its merger with Austrian Airlines (AUL). (NKI)'s fleet is scheduled to increase to 16 airplanes from 12 next year.

(NKI) plans on ramping up its expansion plans following the bankruptcy of SkyEurope Airlines (SKP) and Austrian Airlines (AUL)'s network reduction, with President, Niki Lauda saying, "We will increase our fleet from the current 12 to 16 airplanes next year." (NKI) will add a third daily, Vienna (VIE) - Frankfurt frequency in November and a third daily frequency to Paris Charles de Gaulle by summer 2010. New daily flights from (VIE) to Bucharest Otopeni, Sofia and Belgrade will start next February and capacity on existing routes will be increased by adding larger airplanes. (NKI) also is looking at expanding its leisure network, with destinations like Olbia, Jerez de la Frontera and Cagliari under consideration. It expects +60% growth in its charter business next year thanks to the reductions at Austrian (AUL).

(NKI) next year will add two EMB-190s and one new A320 and will lease two A320s from Air Berlin (BER). One A320 will be returned to the German airline. "Also, in our Embraers we will increase seat capacity from 104 to 112 thanks to newly designed seats," Lauda said, adding that capacity expansion will be tied to cash flow. (NKI) now holds a 10% share of (VIE) traffic, increasing to 16% in partnership with (BER). Its relationship with S7 Airlines (SBR) has yet to bear fruit, however, as it has been unable to secure more traffic rights to Russia. It expects a +25% rise in passenger numbers this year to 2.6 million and revenue of €275 million/$400.6 million, Lauda said. In 2010, it will transport around 3.2 million passengers and realize €400 million in revenue.

December 2009: Niki (NKI) plans to increase capacity by more than >30% next year as it endeavors to fill the void left by SkyEurope Airlines (SKP) and a restructuring Austrian Airlines (AUL). "This is my chance and I'm going to take this opportunity," President, Niki Lauda said. On February 1 (NKI) will begin daily flights from Vienna to Belgrade, Sofia, and Bucharest Otopeni, and on March 26 it will launch daily services to Barcelona and Nice and a six-times-weekly flight to Copenhagen.

Its fleet will grow from the current 11 airplanes to 17 A320 family jets and EMB-190s next year. "We will also add +250 new employees within the next 12 months. Fifty of them are pilots (FC)," Lauda said. Niki (NKI) and partner Air Berlin (BER) aim to control 30% of the Vienna (VIE) market and together they already are the largest (O&D) carrier between Austria and Germany with 444 weekly flights on 21 routes. They command a 47% market share between (VIE) and Germany, one of the highest-density routes in Europe. Lauda said he expects 2009 passenger boardings to increase around +25% from 3 million last year.

February 2010: Niki (NKI) is expecting to announce a capital increase in order to strengthen its position against primary competitor Austrian Airlines (AUL), and Air Berlin (BER) said that it is "in advanced negotiations" regarding an increase of its 24% stake in (NKI). Local media reports suggested that new capital could come from either (BER) or a new investor and that (BER) is considering raising its stake to as much as 49%. President, Niki Lauda is expected to address media, when (NKI) announces its 2009 results. Its passenger boardings rose +28.6% last year to 2.6 million. (BER) said no agreement with Niki (NKI) has been reached and the German airline's board has not approved any additional investment.

Niki (NKI) President, Niki Lauda said that he will remain in charge of (NKI) following Air Berlin (BER)'s move to increase its share to 49.9% and that the airlines will work together to create efficiencies that will allow them to compete with heavyweights Lufthansa (DLH) and Austrian Airlines (AUL). (BER) announced a €21 million/$28.8 million investment in an additional 25.9% share of Niki (NKI) and another €40.5 million in loans, but Lauda said he was "surprised by speculation in the media that I will leave the company . . . it is all nonsense. I am the boss and I will continue to be the boss."

Together the carriers hold more than a 20% market share in Vienna (VIE), and they have an agreement with the airport for exclusive use of the Pier West terminal once the new Skylink terminal is operational in 2012. In the meantime, (NKI) and (BER) will increase frequencies between (VIE), Berlin and Dusseldorf, while some (BER) flights from other Austrian airports could be absorbed by (NKI). Lauda denied rumors that (NKI) will launch a long-haul operation. "We will do what we do best and stay with it," he said. It plans to increase its fleet of 11 airplanes to 27 by 2014, comprising 20 A320 family planes and seven EMB-190s. He expects 2010 revenue of €380 million and 3.5 million passengers, "with a clear positive profit." The number of employees will grow this year to 600 from 520.

March 2010: Alliance among Air Berlin (BER), Niki (NKI) and S7 Airlines (SBR) is "quiet" while the first two carriers await expanded traffic rights to Russia. "Without more traffic rights, we are not able to do much more in terms of cooperation," Niki (NKI) President, Niki Lauda said. (NKI) hopes to double its Vienna - Moscow Domodedovo (DME) service to twice-daily, and launch flights to St Petersburg. The (DME) expansion was scheduled to take place over the summer, "but we have had to reschedule," Lauda said. He is hoping that Austrian Airlines (AUL) will cede one of its frequencies to Niki (NKI) as part of its merger with Lufthansa (DLH). Russian authorities continue to express concern about whether the merger compromises current bilateral agreements between Russia and Austria. (DLH) Chief Officer Group Airlines & Corporate Human Resources (HR), Stefan Lauer told Austria's "Der Standard" that "it would be nonsense to give up grandfathered traffic rights to Russia after so many years developing the market." Russia will have the final word, however. (AUL)'s rights expire at the conclusion of the winter schedule.

A320-214 (4231, OH-LEB), delivery.

May 2010: A320-214 (4316, OH-LEC), and EMB-190 (0349, OE-IHC), deliveries.

July 2010: A320-214 (4368, OE-LEF "Sirtaki"), Air Berlin (BER) leased, ex-(D-AXAY).

August 2010: Following Air Berlin (BER)’s announcement that it intends to join the Oneworld (ONW) alliance, Fly Niki (NKI) President, Niki Lauda said (NKI) has started talks with American Airlines (AAL) and Finnair (FIN) to pursue code share agreements. Lauda said Niki (NKI) is eyeing "big passenger potential in the worldwide market" as it carries passengers to eastern and southeastern Europe via its hub in Vienna.

(NKI) is a strategic partner of Air Berlin (BER), which holds a 49.9% stake in the Austrian carrier. The cooperation between (BER) and (NKI) marked the first European low-cost carrier (LCC) alliance.

(NKI) operates a fleet of 17 airplanes comprised of A320 family airplanes and Embraer EMB-190s, and is on track to grow its fleet to 22 airplanes next year.

September 2010: Niki (NKI) will begin code sharing with American Airlines (AAL) at the end of October. President, Niki Lauda said (NKI)'s first routes will be from Munich, Frankfurt, and Zurich to Vienna. (NKI) has announced it will add a fifth Embraer EMB-190 to its fleet in October, exchanging one leased A320, which will be returned to Air Berlin (BER).

January 2011: Despite the unprecedented events of 2010 that challenged the airline industry, Fly Niki (NKI) President, Niki Lauda said as an Air Berlin (BER) partner, it will report “positive results" for the year. He noted that although (NKI) lost nearly -€12 million/-$15.8 million owing to the Icelandic volcanic disruption, it will post “six years of profit in a row” when it announces its full-year results.

Lauda said (NKI)’s fleet will grow by a net of four airplanes in 2011 from 17 to 21. (NKI) will lease two A319s to another carrier and will add two Embraer EMB-190s, two A320s and two A321s this year, he said. Lauda also noted that (NKI) will prepare to join the Oneworld (ONW) alliance as an affiliate member at the start of 2012. He emphasized that becoming an affiliate does not mean it will have to install business class (C) service on European routes.

Niki transported 3.4 million passengers in 2010, up from 2.6 million in 2009. Looking forward, Lauda said he expects that number to increase to 3.9 million passengers in 2011, but added that he remains cautiously optimistic because the European network remains under pressure for all carriers. “Many in the industry are rejoicing that the crisis is over but I don’t see a reason for jubilation,” he said, noting that (NKI) will add just two new routes, Madrid and Valencia, to its network this year and increase frequencies only on selected routes. “We cannot add a lot of new routes every year,” he explained.

(NKI) and Air Berlin (BER) are evaluating a fuel surcharge increase as fuel prices become more worrisome. Lauda said the airline also axed plans to launch A330 longhaul services from Vienna. “This is no time for us to start long-haul operations,” he said.

A320-214 (4581, OE-LEG), delivery.

February 2011: Germania (GER) signed a long-term contract with the Niki (NKI) to lease two A319s from 2011 onwards.

March 2011: Niki (NKI) reported 2010 net income of +€5.7 million/+$8 million, down -68% from an +€18 million profit in 2009, on a +25.2% increase in revenue to €337.4 million. Passengers carried in 2010 rose +31% year-over-year to 3.38 million.

"We opened six new routes last year; the [April 2010 Icelandic volcano] ash-cloud cost us -€10 million in sales; the winter was strong and we increased our fleet from 12 to 17 airplanes," President, Niki Lauda summarized. He noted that the reported net earnings, while a big drop from 2009, were actually more than double the estimated €2.5 million 2010 profit previously predicted by the airline.

Considering the challenges encountered last year, "the results are much better" than expected, he said. "One of our strategies was to grow as fast as possible against a weakening Austrian Airlines (AUL). The airline [that] offers the best price" will win passengers.

Lauda predicted that Niki (NKI) will carry 4 million passengers in 2011, which would mark a +18.3% increase over 2010. Full-year revenue is projected to heighten +18.6% to $400 million.

April 2011: FlyNiki (NKI) will operate weekly, Vienna - Shannon service beginning May 28 until September.

September 2011: Air Berlin (BER) partner, Niki (NKI) said it is working to establish a (BER)/(NKI) hub in Vienna. President, Niki Lauda said (NKI) is working out the details and is evaluating whether to increase its Airbus (EDS)/Embraer fleet from 21 to 23 airplanes in 2012. He said (NKI) will announce a 2011 profit and is not affected by (BER)’s cost-cutting measures.

October 2011: FlyNiki (NKI) will launch 3X-weekly, Vienna - Tel Aviv A321 service in February 2012.

Air Berlin (BER) is strengthening its Eastern Europe network for the winter schedule to prepare for upcoming membership into the Oneworld (ONW) alliance.

(BER) and Austrian partner, Niki (NKI) will synchronize schedules by offering flights up to 3X daily from Vienna (VIE) to Bucharest Otopeni, Sofia, and Belgrade, connecting (via (VIE)) to Berlin Tegel (TXL), Dusseldorf (DUS), Hamburg, Hanover, Nuremberg, and Zurich.

(NKI) President, Niki Lauda said that “Niki (NKI) will operate 23 airplanes next year. We [will] switch our check-in area to [the] main Terminal 1 in (VIE) from the second part of 2011 and locate all Air Berlin (BER) and Oneworld (ONW) alliance members there.” The switch will be possible when (VIE) opens its new terminal, SkyLink, in June 2012, when most of the Star (SAL) Alliance carriers move to the new facility.

(BER) said a capacity increase of almost +35% from the Russian market has enabled better connections to Europe and long-haul flights. Passenger boardings have increased by more than >+50%.

Starting from the winter schedule, (BER)/Niki (NKI) will offer 50 flights per week to Moscow Domodedovo and St Petersburg from (TXL), (DUS), Munich, St Thomas, (VIE), and Salzburg.

As of May 1, (BER) will triple flights to Kracow and will link Gdansk to (TXL) with 2X-daily connections per week during off-peak times and one flight connection Saturdays and Sundays.

November 2011: FlyNiki (NKI) founder, Niki Lauda has resigned as CEO of (NKI) and has been appointed to the Air Berlin (BER) administrative board as non-Executive Director. Since July 2010, (BER) has held a 49.9% stake in Niki (NKI).

In the restructuring process, (BER) and Lauda have agreed that the Lauda Private Trust (LPT) will soon withdraw from Niki (NKI), in accordance with company law. As a result, the (LPT) will repay the loan it received from (BER) by transferring its 50.1% stake in (NKI). This will not involve any cash payments.

To ensure Austrian control of (NKI), a new exclusively Austrian private trust will hold a majority stake.

“I am pleased that, as a member of the board, I will be able to contribute to the successful development of the entire (BER) group,” Lauda said. He confirmed that Niki (NKI) will operate under its own name. Its position as a legally independent Austrian company, with its own management board, will remain unchanged.

In 2010, FlyNiki (NKI) reported a net income of +€5.7 million/+$8 million, down -68% from a +€18 million profit in 2009, on a +25.2% increase in revenue to €337.4 million. Passengers carried in 2010 rose +31% year-over-year to 3.38 million.

January 2012: Niki (NKI) is now fully controlled by Air Berlin (BER), which has taken over the remaining 50.1% stake in (NKI) from founder, Niki Lauda. (NKI) will continue to operate under its own brand and Air Berlin (BER) has announced plans to further strengthen its hub in Vienna.

(NKI) has announced new routes:
Linz - Las Palmas: weekly seasonal A320-200 service has resumed on December 3;
Salzburg - Lanzarote: weekly seasonal A320-200 service has started on December 3;
Salzburg - Moscow Domodedovo: 2x weekly seasonal A320-200 service between December 24 and March 31;
Vienna - Chania: 2x weekly seasonal A320-200 service between May 7 and October 22;
Vienna - Menorca: weekly seasonal A320-200 service between May 31 and September 20;
Vienna - Mykonos: 2x weekly seasonal A320-200 service between May 2 and October 19;
Vienna - Santorini: 2x weekly seasonal A320-200 service between May 4 and October 26;
Vienna - Skiathos: weekly seasonal A320-200 service between May 22 and October 9;
Vienna - Tel Aviv Ben Gurion: 4x weekly A320-200 service starting on February 20.

Niki (NKI) no longer operates feeder services into Air Berlin (BER)’s Nuremberg hub from Graz and Salzburg this winter.

Etihad Airways (EHD) and airberlin (BER) technik signed a reciprocal agreement, under which airberlin technik will undertake maintenance of (EHD) airplanes in Dusseldorf and (EHD) will be responsible for all transit checks on Air Berlin (BER) airplanes in Abu Dhabi (AUH).

(EHD) in December launched daily A330-300 service and signed an agreement with Air Berlin (BER) to increase its stake in the German airline group to 29.1%. As part of the agreement, Air Berlin (BER) switched its four weekly A330-200 flights from Berlin to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from Dubai to (AUH).

(EHD) will sign code share agreements with the airberlin (BER) group for all European activities, including Air Berlin (BER), FlyNiki (NKI) and Swiss (CSR) subsidiary, Belair (BLB).

February 2012: FlyNiki (NKI) will strengthen its position in Eastern Europe when Air Berlin (BER) becomes a Oneworld (ONW) Alliance member March 20. FlyNiki (NKI), a (BER) subsidiary, will join the (ONW) alliance as an affiliate member.

(NKI) Managing Director, Christian Lesjak said that (ONW) alliance membership will generate new potential and secure its position for future growth, especially after Malev Hungarian Airlines (HGA) ceased operations, which caused the (ONW) alliance to lose a Budapest hub and some important links to Eastern European destinations.

niki (NKI) launched a new route from its Vienna (VIE) hub to Tel Aviv (TLV) in Israel on 20 February. (NKI) now flies the route three times weekly with its A320s, competing with Austrian Airlines (AUL)’s twice-daily flights and El Al (ELA)’s five flights a week. Noticeably, (AUL) has just announced that it will increase capacity on the Tel Aviv route as it drops its Mumbai service, providing further competition for newcomer (NKI). Airberlin (BER) already serves Tel Aviv from Berlin Tegel, Cologne/Bonn, Munich and Düsseldorf.

(NKI)’s fleet (which includes A319s, A320s and A321s and Embraer EMB-190s/195s) will grow from 23 airplanes this year to 26 in 2013 as it adds three more A320s.

Lesjak said (NKI) is evaluating “new routes to nations like Russia, the Ukraine, the Balkans, Tirana or Sarajevo.”

He said one of (NKI)’s highest priorities is hub connectivity within the Air Berlin (BER) Group, such as Vienna (VIE), Berlin, Dusseldorf and Abu Dhabi. Lesjak said that currently less than <10% of (NKI)'s passengers are changing airplanes in (VIE) within the (BER) group; he expects this to increase in 2012. On some dedicated connecting flights, the transfer share is already around 30% [in (VIE)], he said. He predicts long-haul routes to (VIE) will open up, creating growth opportunities for (NKI).

In 2011, (NKI) had a turnover of €435 million/$575.8 million, up +29% compared to €337 million the year before. Lesjak said positive 2011 results will be announced soon. (NKI) transported 4.5 million passengers last year, up +32% from 3.4 million in 2010, and is expecting more than >5 million in 2012.

(NKI) operates four A321s, 10 A320s and seven Embraer E190s. Two more airplanes will join the fleet this year.

A320-214 (5003, OE-LEI), sold to Chengdu Airlines (UEG).

March 2012: Air Berlin (BER) became a member of the Oneworld (ONW) Alliance in a joining ceremony at the new Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER), which will serve as (BER)’s home base and be Europe’s newest hub when it opens June 3. (BER)'s Austrian partner, FlyNiki (NKI), became an affiliate member of the alliance.

(BER), Germany’s second biggest passenger airline, has a 40% domestic market share. (BER)’s entry into the (ONW) Alliance more than triples the number of cities served by the alliance in Germany to 25. FlyNiki (NKI) doubles its coverage of Austria to six airports. “Becoming a member of the (ONW) Alliance is one of the most significant [achievements] for (BER),” (CEO), Hartmut Mehdorn said.

The International Airlines Group (IAG) (CEO), Willie Walsh said during the joining ceremony that (BER)'s entry, British Airways (BAB)'s acquisition of British Midland International (bmi) (BMA) and the launch of Iberia (IBE) Express will boost the (ONW) Alliance's presence in Europe.

“Maybe our alliance is not very well known in this part of Europe, [but] now we will change that,” American Airlines (AAL) Chairman & (CEO), Tom Horton added during the ceremony.

(BER) serves 162 destinations in 40 countries. It carried more than >35 million passengers in 2011. The (ONW) Alliance now has 11 full members.

April 2012: Niki (NKI) is reportedly considering phasing out its EMB-190 fleet over the next couple of years in favor of additional A320 family airplanes and possibly some DHC-8-400s as operated by Air Berlin (BER) partner, (LGW) - Luftfahrtgesellschaft Walter ((IATA) Code: HE, based at Dortmund Wickede airport (DTM)). Some flights from Vienna International airport (VIE) have already been transferred to DHC-8-400s operated by (LGW) such as Belgrade Nikola Tesla (BEG), Florence Peretola (FLR) and Venice Marco Polo Tessera (VCE) airports.

May 2012: Oneworld (ONW) alliance affiliate member FlyNiki (NKI) is working further to strengthen Vienna (VIE) as a hub connecting Western with Eastern/Southeastern Europe.

(NKI) starts flying to Florence Peretola Airport in Italy’s Tuscany from Vienna Airport, serving the capital of Austria.

(NKI) Managing Director, Christian Lesjak said on the sidelines of the launch ceremony of (NHI)’s 6x-weekly, Vienna (VIE) – Florence service that from January 2013, the so-called Pier West at (VIE) will be renovated and dedicated to the Air Berlin (BER) group and its Oneworld (ONW) alliance partners.

(BER)’s Austrian partner, (NKI), became an affiliate member of the (ONW) alliance in March.

Lesjak said (NKI), which is ideally located for (VIE), is working to create and establish its profile within the (ONW) alliance. After Malev Hungarian Airlines (HGA) collapsed earlier this year, the (ONW) alliance lost its partner for Eastern Europe at the Budapest hub.

(ONW) alliance members: British Airways (BAB), Iberia (IBE) and Finnair (FIN) also serve (VIE).

(NKI) transported 4.5 million passengers in 2011. “This year we are targeting five million passengers. We made a solid double-digit profit last business year,” Lesjak added, without giving details.

As part of the (BER) Group’s cost reduction program "Shape & Size," (NKI) is targeting to reduce costs by -€12 million/-$15.5 million annually.

(NKI) operates 16 A320 family airplanes and seven Embraer E190s. The (BER) Group is evaluating the future of the Embraer (EMB) fleet.

June 2012: Niki (HG, Vienna International (VIE)) has now officially confirmed that it plans to phase out its seven EMB-190 as opportunities to dispose of the airplanes arise. It will replace the airplanes with additional A319-100s or A320-200s from parent Air Berlin (BER) instead.

July 2012: Japan Airlines International (JAL) launched a code share with NIKI (NKI) July 1 under which (JAL) will place its code on (NKI) 6X-weekly, Frankfurt - Vienna service.

Air Berlin (BER)) will equip the 14 A320/A321 airplanes it has on order with Sharklet wing tip devices, cutting its fuel burn by up to -3.5%.

NIKI (NKI), which is part of the Air Berlin (BER) group, will take delivery of its first Sharket-equipped A320 in spring 2013. (BER) said the move will slash its carbon dioxide emissions by about 1,000 tonnes per airplanes annually, which is the equivalent of 55 flights from Berlin to Palma de Mallorca.

It describes the Sharklet order as a “major step” in its Eco-Efficient Flying program, which in 2012 aims to cut average specific fuel consumption from 3.5 liters to 3.4 liters per 100 passenger kilometers flown.

October 2012: Austrian-based, low-cost carrier (LCC) FlyNiki (NKI), an Air Berlin (BER) partner, may see its branding disappear as the integration process with (BER) moves forward.

(NKI), which was founded by former Grand Prix driver Niki Lauda in 2003, still operates as an independent Austrian company with its own management board. However, as the two carriers integrate further, Lauda said, “In my opinion, the brand "Niki" will disappear within one to two years’ time.”

Lauda expects (NKI)’s new color scheme, which is similar to (BER), will bring a different kind of service approach as the assimilation of the two carriers moves forward.

As part of the integration process, (NKI)’s Vienna base has been designated a (BER) group hub, with a focus on destinations in Southeastern Europe.

(NKI) became an affiliate member of the Oneworld (ONW) alliance in March.

A year ago, Lauda was appointed to the (BER) administrative board as Non-Executive Director. “I have my own different opinion of running an airline,” he said, adding that he does not believe it was necessary for (NKI) to join the (ONW) alliance. “Why spend so much money on an alliance when you can get the same results when you code share? I think alliances make no sense at all,” Lauda said.

He said (NKI) will phase out all seven Embraer E190s over the winter and will get used A319s from (BER).

November 2012: FlyNiki (NKI), an Air Berlin (BER) partner, will phase out all seven Embraer E190s during the winter and exchange them with (BER)’s A320 family airplanes. “In 2013 we will operate four A321s, six A319s and 13 A320s, meaning a capacity increase in terms of seats of about +2%,” Managing Director, Christian Lesjak said. Three of the A320s will be delivered new from Airbus (EDS).

(NKI) expects positive financial results this year and to transport five million passengers, up from 4.5 million last year.

According to (BER) (CCO), Paul Gregorowich, the EMB-190s will remain within the Air Berlin Group. (BER), which is expecting the delivery of its first 787 in 2015, may operate some of these 787s with (NKI). “Theoretically this could be possible [that (NKI) will operate 787s]. We don’t rule out anything, when (NKI) continues to grow and it makes economical sense for (BER) and (NKI).”

(BER) has 15 787s on order with options and purchase rights on a further 15. (BER) and Etihad Airways (EHD) have integrated their 787 programs in a deal for 56 airplanes.

January 2013: Austrian-based low-cost carrier (LCC) FlyNiki (NKI) founder, Niki Lauda has left the Air Berlin (BER) board to devote more time to his role as Chairman of the Mercedes Formula 1 racing team. Industry veteran and former British Midland International (BMA) (CEO), Austin Reid will succeed Lauda, effective immediately.

“Austin Reid is a boost for the board of directors of Air Berlin (BER) PLC,” Air Berlin (BER) Board Chairman, Hans-Joachim Koerber said in a statement. “He will make an important contribution to the strategic direction of the company with his many years of experience in the industry.”

Lauda said in October he expects the brand FlyNiki (NKI) to disappear in one to two years’ time.

Vienna International Airport has opened the first phase of its dedicated terminal for Air Berlin (BER) and its subsidiary, FlyNiki (NKI), as well as for its Oneworld (ONW) alliance partners. The 3,500 sq m terminal, named "Check-in 1," has 30 check-in counters and eight self-check-in terminals. Within the next 12 months, the gate areas will also be completely renovated.

Vienna Airport (COO), Julian Jäger said: “The investment of the refurbishment of ‘Check-in 1’ has been about €9 million/$11.8 million. Between 2011 and 2015, we will have invested nearly €600 million in our airport infrastructure.” “This year, we will operate a 23-strong, all-A320 family airplane fleet, a capacity increase of about +8% because we have exchanged our seven Embraer EMB-190s with [A320s],” FlyNiki (NKI) (CEO), Christian Lesjak said.

In 2012, (NKI) transported around five million passengers. Lesjak said 10% of FlyNiki (NKI) passengers change airplanest in Vienna. He hopes to increase Vienna to Moscow Domodedovo services to 2x-daily in 2013. FlyNiki (NKI) is aiming to become the preferred airline to Greece, where it will fly to 19 destinations this summer. “Last year, we had a passenger increase of +41% on routes to Greece,” he said.

Lesjak said the latest delay of Berlin Brandenburg Airport is another disappointment for the Air Berlin group, as it “does not allow us to operate our hub system more efficiently.”

Vienna Airport handled 22.2 million passengers last year, an increase of >+1 million passengers compared to the year before.

May 2013: (NIKI) (NKI) added a new Greek route to its summer offering from Vienna (VIE) on May 7th, bringing up the total of destinations it offers in the country to 19. Following this launch, (NKI) offered 3x-weekly frequencies on the 1,000 km route to Thessaloniki (SKG), which it operates using E190s. Austrian Airlines (AUL) provides competition, serving Thessaloniki from the Austrian capital, Vienna with daily flights.

June 2013: A320-214 (5648, OE-LEY), ex-(D-AUBV), delivery.

August 2013: Flyniki (NKI) will launch flights from Vienna to Larnaka starting in January 2014 (the 1st time (NKI) has operated to Cyprus. The new 2x-weekly route will start on January 31, with plans to increase frequency to 3x-weekly from March 31.

According to Hermes Airports, the new route is the result of a joint effort including the Cyprus Tourism Organization and other local stakeholders. The (CEO) of Hermes Airports, Wes Porter said: "We are delighted with Flyniki (NKI)’s decision to include Cyprus in its program. We welcome (NKI) and are confident that the travelling public will be delighted with both the affordable prices and the high level of service provided, as well as with the multiple options for corresponding flights offered by their network via Vienna Airport.”

October 2013: FlyNiki (NKI), airBerlin (BER) subsidiary, launches daily, Vienna to Madrid Barajas on January 13. For the winter schedule, it adds 2x-weekly, Vienna to Larnaca service.

January 2014: Finnair (FIN) is considering using Vienna as a hub to leisure destinations in Southeastern Europe, connecting with Oneworld (ONW) Alliance affiliate member and airberlin (BER) subsidiary, FlyNiki (NKI).

(FIN) Director Central Europe Jan Pellinen said in Vienna (FIN) has not considered the Austrian market over the last few years due to its restructuring, “but now we want to invest in our presence here again. The idea is to use Vienna as a connecting point to FlyNiki (NKI) leisure routes.”

(ONW) Alliance member, Finnair (FIN) operates 2x-daily, Helsinki to Vienna flights. FlyNiki (NKI) has established a hub in Vienna to destinations such as Greece, connecting with airberlin (BER). “Our hub operation works very well. On routes to leisure destinations like to Greece, we enjoy load factors of >90%,” (NKI) (CEO) Christian Lesjak said.

Vienna International Airport last year opened the 1st phase of its dedicated terminal for airberlin (BER) and subsidiary, FlyNiki (NKI), as well as for its Oneworld (ONW) alliance partners.

Pellinen also said Finnair (FIN) can invest in markets again and has “increased our flights from Dusseldorf as well as from Zurich to Helsinki from double daily to 4x-daily flights.”

In addition, Helsinki airport is undergoing a major €900 million/$1.2 billion investment, which includes a new premium lounge.

(FIN) is working to establish a 3rd bank (a 3rd wave for takeoffs and departures) at its Helsinki hub. Its 2 banks, which currently operate at 5 pm and about midnight, are already operating at high levels, connecting Europe with its 13 destinations in Asia.

February 2014: (NIKI) (NKI), the Austrian-based subsidiary of airberlin (BER), expanded its European network on January 31st with a new service from Vienna (VIE) to Larnaca (LCA). The 2,039 km sector to the 3rd largest city on the S coast of Cyprus will be served 3x-weekly, utilizing (NKI)’s 112-seat E190s. From March 3rd, (NKI) will operate its larger 180Y-seat A320s on the route. Competition on the route is provided by Austrian Airlines (AUL)’s daily flights. Commenting on the route launch, Wes Porter (CEO) of Hermes Airport, said: “We welcome NIKI (NKI) to Cyprus and we are delighted that Larnaca has been added to the (NKI) route network. (NKI)’s affordable fares, convenient flight schedule and excellent service will ensure the success of the Larnaca to Vienna route. Access to (NKI) and airberlin (BER)’s extensive route network via (NKI)’s Vienna hub will give the travelling public wider access to a range of destinations.”

March 2014: NIKI (NKI), the wholly-owned Austrian-based subsidiary of airberlin (BER), has launched flights on Monday March 10th from its Vienna (VIE) base to Madrid (MAD), the capital of Spain. The 1,810 km route is already served by Iberia (IBE) with 13 weekly flights. (NKI) will initially operate the route with four weekly flights (a mix of E190s and Airbus airplanes), but from May will increase frequency to 5x-weekly Airbus flights. (NKI) previously operated the route during the summer of 2011. This summer, (NIKI) (NKI) will be operating non-stop flights from Vienna to >40 destinations across Europe. (NKI)’s most recent route launch was to Larnaca in January, while Malta will be added to the network starting at the end of March.

May 2014: Austria-based, low-cost carrier (LCC) FlyNiki (NKI), an airberlin (BER) subsidiary, said its leisure hub in Vienna is performing strongly.

June 2014: FlyNiki (NKI) will launch its 1st long-haul-route on November 4th with a daily, Vienna to Abu Dhabi service. The so-called “strategic-route” is part of a cooperation between airberlin (BER) and Etihad Airways (EHD). “For us that means a big step. It fits in our hub strategy between the north and the south, creating connectivity especially for traffic to the Far East or Australia,” (NKI) Managing Director Christian Lesjak said.

The route will be operated by 1 A320, offering 132Y economy class seats and 12C seats in business class. “Operating a single airplane up to 13 hours per day but we have enough ground time on both airports for necessary maintenance,” Lesjak added.

July 2014: FlyNiki (NKI), airberlin (BER) subsidiary, will launch daily, Vienna to Abu Dhabi Airbus A320 service on November 4.

August 2014: FlyNiki (NKI) is reducing capacity as demand weakens and sanctions against Russia influence bookings.

October 2014: News Item A-1: NIKI (NKI), the wholly-owned Austrian-based subsidiary of airberlin (BER), entered the Moroccan market with 2 new routes launched from Vienna (VIE) on October 1st. Firstly (NKI) commenced 2x-weekly (Mondays and Wednesdays) operations on the 2,966 km sector to Agadir (AGA), which is served utilizing a mixed fleet of its 180-seat A320s and 212-seat A321s. Secondly, (NKI) launched weekly (Wednesdays) flights to Marrakech (RAK), using its 180-seat A320s. No other airline serves these 2 airport pairs.

(NKI) will launch its 1st long-haul route November 24 with daily A320 Vienna to Abu Dhabi services. FlyNiki (NKI) will code share with Etihad Airways (EHD) on the route. “For us, that means the opening door into intercontinental business and access to the global network,” (NKI) (CEO) Christian Lesjak said. “The Abu Dhabi service [enables us] to show more international presence and creates better fleet utilization during the weaker European winter season,” he said.

Asked if the Oneworld (ONW) Alliance affiliate is looking to operate more long-haul routes, Lesjak said (NKI)’s strength is short- to medium-haul business within Europe, especially on leisure routes such as to Greece or Spain during the summer, and to Egypt in the winter season. Separately, FlyNiki (NKI) said it will axe routes from Vienna to Frankfurt and Copenhagen this winter, as well as Vienna to Moscow Domodedovo from next year. “The demands from Russia have been weakening in the last several months,” Lesjak said, adding, “Political measures, like sanctions against Russia, have led to a strong decline in traffic.”

News Item A-2: FlyNiki (NKI) has signed a new collective agreement with flight crews (FC) and technical employees (MT), effective October 1, (CEO) Christian Lesjak confirmed. He said the majority of FlyNiki (NKI)’s personnel had been contract workers. “This move includes several positive perspectives: It secures our competitive cost structure for our employees,” Lesjak added.

November 2014: News Item A-1: NIKI (NKI), the wholly-owned Austrian-based subsidiary of airberlin (BER), commenced its 4th route to Egypt on November 6th, when it added weekly flights (Thursdays) from Vienna (VIE) to Sharm El Sheikh (SSH). (NKI) will face no direct competition on the 2,713 km sector, which will be served utilizing its 180Y-seat A320s. (NIKI) (NKI) is already flying to the Egyptian market, with 2x-weekly flights to Hurghada from Salzburg and Vienna, and 2x-weekly operations to Marsa Alam from Vienna.

News Item A-2: FlyNiki (NKI) launched its 1st long-haul route with daily, Vienna to Abu Dhabi A320 services on November 24, featuring 12C business- and 132Y economy-class seats with Wi-Fi service.

Etihad Airways (EHD) has placed its "EY" code on the service as part of a code share agreement with (NKI). “Starting long-haul operations is one of the biggest projects (NKI) has done recently. Our Vienna flight offers connections to 44 destinations here in Abu Dhabi,” Managing Director Christian Lesjak said.

Lesjak expects (NKI) will transport around 100,000 passengers in the 1st 12 months on the route (around 75% will be transfer passengers in Abu Dhabi). “For example, subject to governmental approval, we will place our code on 22 destinations, like Sydney, on (EHD) flights,” he said.

Etihad Airways (EHD) has a 29.21% stake in (BER). During the current winter schedule, the airberlin group operates 2x-daily, Berlin Tegel to Abu Dhabi services, daily service from Düsseldorf, daily service from Stuttgart (starting December 1) and new Vienna service to Abu Dhabi. New Hamburg to Abu Dhabi service is also under consideration.

Airberlin (BER) spokesperson, Aage Duenhaupt said Wi-Fi will be implemented on all its airplanes from January onward, which will be completed in 3 years.

FlyNiki (NKI) is the 7th airline to enroll onto the Etihad Partners program, alongside airberlin (BER), Air Serbia (JAT), Air Seychelles (ASY), Jet Airways (JPL), Darwin Airline and Etihad Airways (EHD). The program, launched in October, differs from legacy airline alliances by offering benefits beyond pure commercial cooperation, including network and frequent flyer alignment.

December 2014: Helvetic Airways (OAW) will buy 7 112-seat Embraer E190s from Austria-based airberlin (BER) subsidiary FlyNiki (NKI), which is expanding its fleet capacity with 5 150-seat Airbus A319s and 2 180-seat A320s.

February 2015: Niki ((IATA) Code: HG, based at Vienna) (NKI) has received 2 A319-100s formerly in service with parent Air Berlin (BER). The 2 6-year-old airplanes (3661, OE-LNA & 3447, OE-LNB) have already been re-registered in Austria and are configured with 150Y seats each. (NKI) operated the type up until 2013.

As it currently stands, the twinjets will also be used on (NKI)'s existing route network as well as on its new Slovakian flights from Bratislava to Brussels National and Vienna starting October 5.

March 2015: NIKI (NKI), the wholly-owned Austrian-based subsidiary of airberlin (BER), expanded its presence in Cyprus, with the addition of a new route from its Vienna (VIE) base to Paphos (PFO) on February 24th. The 1,988 km sector to the coastal city in the south-west part of Cyprus will be served weekly (Tuesdays), utilizing (NKI)’s 180Y-seat A320s; however, this service will see a frequency increase to twice-weekly from April 2nd. No airline flies between these two points. Interestingly, NIKI (NKI) also operates 3x-weekly from Vienna to Larnaca.

April 2015: airberlin (BER) subsidiary, FlyNiki (NKI) has dropped plans to establish a base in the Slovakian capital of Bratislava.

Oneworld (ONW) Alliance affiliate (NKI) (which had planned to launch double-daily services to Brussels, daily flights to Vienna, as well as several frequencies to Palma de Mallorca from Bratislava this summer) has deferred the launch to October. (NKI) said other routes are more economical than Bratislava, but it may reevaluate Bratislava service at a later time.

During this summer’s schedule, (NKI) operates to about 70 destinations throughout Europe, North Africa and Abu Dhabi, offering around 870 weekly flights with a fleet of 22 Airbus A320 family airplanes.

Separately, Finnair (FIN) is expanding its code share cooperation with airberlin (BER) and FlyNiki (NKI). The Finnair AY designator will be added to selected services operated by (BER) or FlyNiki (NKI)to Bucharest Otopeni, Catania, Chania, Cologne, Larnaca, Malaga, Naples, Palma de Mallorca, Paphos, and Stuttgart, connecting these cities via Berlin Tegel, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Munich, Vienna, or Zurich.

The code shares are planned to take effect from early May.

Finnair (FIN) and airberlin (BER) have been code sharing across Scandinavia and Central Europe since 2010.

May 2015: A320-214 (3093, OE-LEN), ex-(D-ABDP), Aircastle leased, A320-214 (5246, OE-LEV), ex-(D-ABNB), (GEF) leased.

July 2015: SriLankan Airlines (LNK) began code sharing with airberlin (BER) and NIKI (NKI). The 3 airlines will fly daily code share services between Germany, Austria, and Sri Lanka, via Abu Dhabi. (BER) and (NKI) also offer flights to Colombo under their code share agreement with Etihad Airways (EHD). In total, 3x-daily services are offered on Abu Dhabi - Colombo.

August 2015: Air Berlin ((IATA) Code: AB, based at Berlin Tegel) (BER) is considering outsourcing some routes and operations to its Austrian unit, Niki (NKI), inside sources have informed the "Süddeutsche Zeitung."

The move is part of a renewed turnaround plan that aims to generate EUR400 million/USD440 million in earnings for the loss-making (BER) in 2016, they stated.

On the back of a -EUR247.6 million/-USD272.4 million 1st half loss, Air Berlin (BER) said it was in the process of completing a fundamental review of its current network operations. According to the newspaper report, certain loss-making routes may be transferred to the (NKI)'s domain in a move that would mirror rival Lufthansa (DLH) Group's regional and long haul budget plans for Eurowings (EWG).

Other options Air Berlin (BER) is currently considering are the outsourcing of Maintenance Repair & Overhaul (MRO) and certain administrative functions to Niki (NKI), where costs are 'significantly' lower than at their German parent.

Once the review is completed, (BER) said it will spend the 2nd half of the year optimizing its internal business processes, while increasing focus on its core business.

March 2016: News Item A-1: NIKI (NKI) (named after its Founder, legendary racing driver Niki Lauda) is now a fully-owned subsidiary of Germany’s airberlin (BER), currently operating a fleet of 20 A320-series aircraft. Unlike its German parent company with its multiple business models and aircraft types, the Austrian carrier adheres to more of the principles of a proper low-cost carrier (LCC). Launched back in May 2004, its operations have been concentrated at Vienna, though a number of ‘summer sun’ destinations are also served from other Austrian airports, notably Graz, Linz, and Salzburg.

This summer, (NKI) will be serving 52 destinations non-stop from Vienna, the same as last summer. However, this hides the fact that five sectors have been dropped as summer route (to Agadir, Athens, Marrakech, Munich, and Tel Aviv), while five new services will be starting this summer; to Dubrovnik, Faro, Funchal, Menorca, and Split. Funchal and Menorca have both previously been served by NIKI (NKI) from Vienna. Agadir and Marrakech will continue to be served as seasonal winter routes.

(NKI)’s 230 weekly departures this summer from Vienna give it just >11% of seat capacity at Vienna, well behind Austrian Airlines (AUL) which accounts for 46% of seats. However, parent company airberlin (BER) has a further 5% of seats thanks to its 110 weekly flights to 5 German airports (Berlin Tegel, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Hannover, and Nuremberg). Lufthansa (DLH) and Eurowings (EWG)/Germanwings (RFG) have roughly 8.5% of seats, which means that between them, the Lufthansa Group (which also owns Austrian Airlines (AUL) and SWISS (CSR)) and airberlin (BER) are responsible for around 71% of seat capacity in Vienna.

* Palma de Mallorca plays key role

Analysis of (NKI)’s leading routes as measured by Available Seat Kilometres (ASK)s which takes into account sector length, frequency and aircraft size, reveals that 13 of NIKI (NKI)’s top 15 routes are from Vienna, with the remaining two (shown in bright green) both routes to Palma de Mallorca. (NKI)’s top route from Vienna is also to Palma de Mallorca (served with 20 weekly flights), followed by Abu Dhabi, Barcelona, and Malaga. Seven of the top 15 routes involve Spanish destinations.

See attached chart: NIKI (NKI)'s Top 15 Routes by (ASK)s.
These top 15 routes account for around 52% of all of (NKI)’s flown (ASK)s this summer. Significant destinations that NIKI (NKI) has flown to from Vienna in the past but which are no longer served (apart from those already mentioned) include Belgrade, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, London Stansted, Milan Malpensa (flights were moved to Milan Linate), Sofia, and Warsaw.

* Bratislava operations aborted

In December 2014, (NKI) revealed plans to serve Brussels and Palma de Mallorca from Bratislava in Slovakia, located just 50 km from Vienna. Service was supposed to start in April 2015 but it seems that airberlin (BER) pulled the plug on these plans, as they never materialised. There was also talk of operating scheduled services between Bratislava and Vienna, which would have made it one of the world’s shortest international flights, but this also never happened. Meanwhile, Ryanair (RYR) has been serving Palma de Mallorca from Bratislava since (S10) and began its own flights to Brussels on April 1, 2016.

Another plan that failed to live up to expectations was the (NKI)’s experiment with operating smaller 100-seat Embraer (EMB) E190s. NIKI operated up to seven of these aircraft between May 2009 and May 2015, before reverting to an all-Airbus fleet. According to Airbus data, there are no further new aircraft waiting to be delivered to the carrier though it is always possible that airberlin (BER) could supply additional aircraft from its own fleet if necessary.

Though founder Niki Lauda is no longer involved in the airline that carries his name, he has recently returned to the aviation business as the new owner of Amira Air, a business jet operator based in Vienna. The enterprise has recently been re-named LaudaMotion and operates a fleet of 14 Bombardier business jets.

News Item A-2: NIKI (NKI) on March 12 commenced services on the 2,340 km sector between Vienna (VIE) and Faro (FAO). The airport pair will be flown weekly (Saturdays) and faces no direct competition from incumbent carriers. NIKI (NKI) will utilize its 212-seat A321s on the route between the Austrian capital and Faro. In total, NIKI (NKI) now serves 27 routes year-round from Vienna, of which 15 are served either weekly or 2x-weekly.

April 2016: Airberlin (BER) has appointed Oliver Lackmann as Managing Director of Austrian subsidiary, FlyNiki (NKI), effective April 15. He succeeds Thomas Suritsch, who will leave the company for health reasons after one year in the position.

Lackmann recently served as Chief Flight Operations Officer and Airberlin Accountable Manager. As a captain (FC), Lackmann flies Airbus A320/A330s.

Airberlin (BER) (CEO) Stefan Pichler called Lackmann “an experienced aviation expert, who will bring best practices from various airlines into the operations of NIKI (NKI) and will drive the continued development and improvement of the company.”

October 2016: News Item A-1: "Etihad, TUI Group Plan New Leisure Airline" by (ATW) Kurt Hofmann, October 5, 2016.

Etihad Aviation Group and German holiday giant (TUI) (HAP)/(HLX) are in discussions to create a European leisure airline group, which is expected to operate 58 airplanes on point-to-point services to key tourist markets.

The partners detailed plans to combine the leisure operations of the airberlin (BER) group and German carrier TUIfly (HAP)/(HLX) into a new airline group, serving destinations from Austria, Germany, and Switzerland.

The new holding company could be based in Austria, with Etihad (EHD) and (TUI) Group each taking a 24.9% stake. The remaining 50.2% is expected to be held by an Austrian foundation, to ensure Austrian majority ownership and maintain international traffic rights.

The still-to-be-named airline is planning a fleet of 14 Boeing 737s (currently operated by TUIfly (HAP)/(HLX) for airberlin (BER) under a wet-lease agreement), 27 TUIfly (HAP)/(HLX) 737NGs, as well as 17 Airbus A320 family aircraft from Austrian airberlin (BER) subsidiary FlyNiki (NKI).

(TUI) (HAP)/(HLX), Etihad (EHD) and airberlin (BER) said they intend to finalize an in-principle agreement in due course, subject to regulatory approvals, but it is understood the partnership could be completed within the next 2 weeks. An announcement is expected October 26. It is also understood TUIfly (HAP)/(HLX) pilots (FC) will be offered jobs with Etihad Airways (EHD).

“TUIfly (HAP)/(HLX) hasn’t grown in recent years. Also, TUIfly (HAP)/(HLX) has no long-haul airplanes in its fleet, but the focus of the (TUI) (TUG) tourism business is [long-haul] destinations in Asia, for example.” As (EHD) is a long-haul carrier, the cooperation could see (EHD) flying (TUG) holidaymakers to long-haul destinations.

In a letter to employees, TUIfly (HAP)/(HLX) supervisory board Chairman Henrik Homann said TUI Deutschland (HAP)/(HLX)’s profits and results have been impacted for many years by substantial overcapacity in the airline industry and TUIfly (HAP)/(HLX)’s above-market cost structure.

“We own too much flight capacity and we’re producing it at a cost which is significantly higher than market prices. As a result, flight services in Germany for our tourism products are often available from our competitors at considerably lower prices than those offered by TUIfly to TUI Deutschland, with adverse impacts on our profitability and results in that source market,” Homann said.

Oneworld (ONW) Alliance member airberlin (BER) is Germany’s 2nd-largest airline and is 29.2% owned by Etihad Airways (EHD). (TUI) (TUG)/HAP)/(HLX) used to hold a stake in airberlin (BER), but this was disposed of in 2015.

In 2015, airberlin (BER) carried >30.2 million passengers, but reported a -€446.6 million/-$485.5 million loss, deepened from a -€376.7 million loss the year before. In the 1st half of 2016, airberlin (BER) posted a -€271.5 million loss. On September 28, airberlin (BER) detailed a drastic restructuring plan, which includes the outsourcing of 40 Airbus A320s to German rival Lufthansa (DLH) Group and -1,200 job losses.

TUIfly (HAP)/(HLX) is part of (TUI) Group (TUG), which has a portfolio of six European airlines and around 140 airplanes, a distribution network of more than >1,800 travel agencies and online portals, around 300 hotels and 14 cruise liners.

It is understood the other (TUI) Group (TUG) airlines are not part of the deal. These comprise UK-based Thomson Airways (ATW)/(GUE) (63 airplanes), Sweden’s TUIfly Nordic (TNS) (8 airplanes), (TUI) Airlines Belgium (21 airplanes), (TUI) Airlines Netherlands (HOL) (10 airplanes) and France’s Corsair International (COR) (7 airplanes).

News Item A-2: "TUIfly (HAP)/(HLX) to Shut Down Flight Operations October 7 after ‘Massive’ Flight Crew (FC) Shortage," by Kurt Hofmann, October 6 2016.

German leisure carrier TUIfly (HAP)/(HLX) has decided to completely shut down flight operations Friday, October 7 after many airplane flight crew (FC) called in sick on short notice October 6, a spokesman confirmed. The action follows concerns about a partial merger between the 2 companies.

On October 7, TUIfly (HAP)/(HLX) had to cancel 47 out of 110 planned flights and airberlin (BER) canceled 90 flights.

On October 7, (HAP)/(HLX) has canceled 108 flights, comprising 54 flights leaving from Germany and 54 from tourism destinations throughout Europe.

(HAP)/(HLX) again will charter airplanes from other carriers to bring tourists back. The company said it is working to reduce the impact on passengers after many flight crew (FC) members again called in sick on short notice.

(HAP)/(HLX) also said it expects further flight cancellations. (HAP)/(HLX) said because of the wide scope of flight crew (FC) short-notice absences, it is impossible to inform passengers earlier and offer alternative travel arrangements.

December 2016: News Item A-1: "Lufthansa Acquires Brussels Airlines, to Become Part of Eurowings (EWG)" by (ATW) Kurt Hofmann, December 15, 2016.

The Lufthansa Group has taken over 100% of SN Airholding, the parent company of Brussels Airlines (DAT)/(EAD), in a deal to fully integrate the Belgian carrier into Lufthansa (DLH)’s Eurowings (EWG) Group in 2018.

(DLH)’s supervisory board agreed to exercise a call option on the remaining 55% stake, effective December 31. The transaction will close by the beginning of January 2017. The price for the acquisition of the remaining 55% of the shares is €2.6 million/$2.8 million, which will be transferred to a consortium of 30 shareholders.

“We have seen a series of radical changes in the industry and, over the last several months, competition has increased to a high level. We see a lot more consolidation to come. The strong [airlines] are getting bigger and this is what (DLH) intends to do,” Lufthansa Group (CEO) Carsten Spohr said

(DLH) said Brussels Airlines (DAT)/(EAD)’s attractive market, its established African network and its advantageous cost structure (which has allowed the airline to compete with the tough low-cost competition in the Belgian market) will further strengthen the Lufthansa (DLH) and Eurowings (EWG) market position.

“Africa is one of the reasons we have invested in (DAT)/(EBA), and only airlines that have a highly competitive cost structure have a place in the Lufthansa Group,” Spohr said. After the acquisition, Brussels Airlines will operate its 23 long-haul routes, as well as 79 destinations in Europe, under the umbrella of the Eurowings Group.

“With Brussels Airlines, the Eurowings Group will grow to 180 aircraft. Creating a more pan-European Eurowings is a big step in that direction. The Lufthansa Group is number one in Brussels. Aviation in Belgium needs a stronger partner,” Spohr said.

Lufthansa acquired a 45% share of SN Airholding 8 years ago. “In 2008 we had only 3 long-haul aircraft. Today we have 9, and soon we will fly to Mumbai. All this would not have been possible without (DLH),” SN Airholding board Chairman Viscount Etienne Davignon said. Between 2013 and 2015, passenger numbers have increased +30% to 7.5 million. The brand Brussels Airlines will, over time, be complemented by the claim “member of the Eurowings Group,” he said.

Brussels Airlines’ fleet harmonization toward an Airbus A320 family fleet for the European network will be continued. The fleet comprises 42 short- and medium-haul aircraft, including 2 in wet lease, and 9 A330s. “We are sure that a big joint decision will be the future long-haul fleet of Brussels Airlines,” Spohr said.

In the past 3 years, Brussels Airlines has reduced overall costs by -15%. For the fiscal year of 2015, Brussels Airlines generated an operating profit of +€43.4 million. With the full integration of Brussels Airlines, synergies will add up to a mid-double-digit million euro amount per year. “We understand the local brand. We believe there is a need to connect Europe to the world and not to be connected [from others]. Today 120,000 people work for Lufthansa, which will increase to 124,000 [with Brussels Airlines], and we are getting to 700 aircraft next year,” Spohr said.

“Over the past 8 years, our collaboration with (DLH) has proven its potential to create perspectives and safeguard jobs. Furthermore, the Lufthansa Group will enable us to expand our African reach by positioning Brussels as the Sub-Saharan Africa Hub of the Lufthansa Group,” Davignon said.

The Brussels Airlines management board remains unchanged under the leadership of (CEO) Bernard Gustin. In addition, an advisory council will be established and will support the integration process.

News Item A-2: "Lufthansa, Etihad Finalize Code Share, Wet Lease of 38 Airberlin Aircraft" by (ATW) Kurt Hofmann, December 16, 2016.

The Lufthansa Group and Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Aviation Group have finalized a code share deal and wet-lease agreement for 38 airberlin (BER) Airbus A319/A320 aircraft operating for Eurowings (EWG) and Austrian Airlines (AUL). The code share deal, which is subject to government approval, is set to begin in January 2017.

The 6-year wet-lease agreement, effective February 2017, is also subject to regulatory requirements. Of the 38 former (BER) aircraft, Eurowings (EWG) will operate 33 and Austrian Airlines (AUL) will operate 5.

Lufthansa Group Chairman & (CEO) Carsten Spohr said, “We are looking forward to partnering with the Etihad Aviation Group. The wet-lease contract with airberlin (BER) fosters the growth of our Eurowings (EWG) Group. The code share agreement of Lufthansa (DLH) and Etihad (EHD) will offer our customers more benefits and complement both airlines’ networks. We will consider extending our cooperation in other areas.”

Eurowings (EWG) also announced it will establish a new base at Munich Airport, where it will base 4 A320 family aircraft initially. Additional aircraft will be placed in Vienna and Palma de Mallorca.

As a result of the wet-lease agreement, Eurowings said it is able to phase out up to 20 older A320s, reducing overcapacity. Airberlin (BER) said it could reduce restructuring costs. On September 28, (BER) released details of its restructuring plan, which hinged on placing up to 40 A320s with the Lufthansa Group and reducing employee positions by up to 1,200.

Under the code share agreement, Lufthansa (DLH) will place its LH code on Etihad Airways (EHD)’s 2x-daily flights between Abu Dhabi and Frankfurt and 2x-daily Abu Dhabi to Munich services. (EHD) will, in turn, put its EY code on (DLH)’s flights between Frankfurt and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil as well as Bogota, Colombia.

Etihad Aviation Group President & (CEO) James Hogan said, “We have long seen Germany as a key strategic market for the Etihad Aviation Group and this new relationship with (DLH) marks the next step in our commitment to the leading European Aviation Group.”

On December 5, oneworld (ONW) member airberlin (BER) announced the sale of 49.8% of its Austrian subsidiary FlyNiki (NKI) to Etihad (EHD) for €300 million/$320 million, to create a new European leisure airline in a joint venture (JV) with German travel company (TUI) Group (TUG).

On December 15, the Lufthansa Group took over 100% of SN Airholding, the parent company of Brussels Airlines (DAT)/(EBA), in a deal to fully integrate the Belgian carrier into Lufthansa (DLH)’s Eurowings (EWG) Group in 2018.

Airberlin (BER) reported a 3rd-quarter loss of -€45.6 million, reversed from a +€56.2 million profit in the year-ago period.

News Item A-3: "Lufthansa & Etihad: From Enemies to Partners" by Karen Walker in (ATW) Editor's Blog, December 16, 2016.

Lufthansa (DLH) and Etihad (EHD), in the past, have fought over airberlin (BER) code share rights, specifically and more broadly over Gulf carrier growth and subsidy allegations. Today, the 2 became business partners, completing a code share and wet-lease agreement that links together Germany’s Lufthansa Group and Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Aviation Group, ironically with airberlin (BER) aircraft at the center of the deal.

Etihad (EHD), which owns a 29% stake in airberlin (BER), has agreed to wet-lease 38 airberlin (BER) Airbus A320 family aircraft to the Lufthansa Group, which will use them to operate routes for 2 of its airline units, Eurowings (EWG) and Austrian Airlines (AUL). The agreement is particularly important for low cost carrier (LCC) (EWG), which (DLH) is looking to grow more rapidly.

Meanwhile, (DLH) will place its LH code on Etihad Airways (EHD)’s 2x-daily flights between the 2 airlines’ respective home hubs of Abu Dhabi and Frankfurt, and on 2x-daily Abu Dhabi to Munich services. (EHD) will put its EY code on (DLH)’s flights from Frankfurt to Rio de Janeiro and Bogota.

Both elements of the partnering arrangement are subject to regulatory approval, but if accomplished, it will be the latest example of a legacy flagship and a Gulf carrier becoming "dance partners." British Airways (BAB) parent the (IAG) was the icebreaker; (IAG) (CEO) Willie Walsh and Qatar Airways (QTA) Group (CEO) Akbar Al Baker forged a deal that made (QTA) a stakeholder in the (IAG) (a stake later increased to 20%). Walsh was also instrumental in getting (QTA) into the Oneworld (ONW) Alliance (joining Oneworld (ONW) Alliance Founder member (BAB) and also, oddly enough, airberlin (BER)). Qatar Airways (QTA) is now also taking a 10% stake in the (LATAM) Airlines Group (LAN)/(TPR).

Some accused Qantas (QAN) (CEO) Alan Joyce of doing a deal in 2013 with the devil when he signed a 10-year global partnership with Emirates (EAD), the largest of the “big 3” Gulf carriers. Although no investment stake was involved, the deal permitted extensive coordination and allowed (QAN), the Australian flagship to cut back its own European flights and connect to Emirates (EAD)’s broad European network, even shifting its European connecting hub from Singapore to Dubai. Lucifer has been lucrative; restructuring and partnerships have helped Qantas (QAN) climb from A$2.8 billion/$2.1 billion net loss in its fiscal year through June 2014 to a record profit of A$1 billion for the 2015/2016 fiscal year (the best result in its 95-year history).

Now we have Lufthansa (DLH) and Etihad (EHD) in a "dance," with the Group (CEO)s of each replacing subsidy barbs with hints of a greater future together. “We are looking forward to partnering with the Etihad Aviation Group,” Lufthansa Group Chairman & (CEO) Carsten Spohr said. “We will consider extending our cooperation in other areas.”

Etihad Aviation Group President & (CEO) James Hogan responded, “This new relationship with Lufthansa (DLH) marks the next step in our commitment to the leading European aviation group.” Perhaps it’s simply a case of 2 smart businessmen realizing they are better off working together than fighting in an industry environment that gets only more challenging. Hogan has often noted that (EHD)’s 2 biggest competitors are those in his backyard. Emirates (EAD) and Qatar Airways (QTA) have become stronger competitors through their partnerships with legacy and other carriers. The Lufthansa Group, though performing well, is still in cost restructuring catch-up mode relative to the (IAG); and both airberlin (BER) and Eurowings (EWG) are loss-making. The new partnership could yield returns across each group’s portfolios and make them more resilient to the competition and economic upheavals in their home markets as well as in the all-important transatlantic market. Most significantly, the Lufthansa (DLH) - Etihad (EHD) tie-up perhaps represents the end of any global attempt to constrain the Gulf carriers by regulatory means. From here on, should the USA majors choose to continue that fight, they’ve probably lost Lufthansa (DLH) as a public supporter. And Air France (AFA), still mired in its own restructuring, seems to believe it can tackle Gulf competition by starting a low-cost, long-haul carrier dedicated to that purpose.

Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer, the saying goes. Abu Dhabi-German relations have transformed, perhaps by necessity, from chilly to sunny-warm. Let’s see what can be achieved when you quit fighting and start working on how to better compete with your enemy’s enemy.

News Item A-4: Lufthansa Group low-cost (LCC) subsidiary, Eurowings (EWG) and German public services trade union Verdi have reached a labor agreement for cabin crews (CA)s on December 2. According to the agreement, flight attendants (CA) will see a +2.5% wage increase backdated from October 1, 2016; a further +2.5% increase October 1, 2017; and another +1.25% increase October 1, 2018.

Eurowings (EWG) cabin chiefs (Chefs de Cabine) will now be managed as pursers and will be compensated based on a separate purser (wages tariff) table, which will see increase of +5% as of October 1, 2016; +2.5% as of October 1, 2017; and +1.25% as of October 1, 2018.

The collective agreement expires March 31, 2019.

The Dusseldorf-based Eurowings (EWG) will also offer this deal to the (UFO) flight attendant (CA) union. “With this financial statement, we have gone to the limits of what is economically justified in a difficult market environment. The agreement is an important milestone on the way to the solution of the tariff conflicts in the (EWG) cabin,” Managing Director Jörg Beißel said.

On November 1, it was reported that (EwWG) flight attendants (CA), represented by the (UFO) union, had postponed a 2-day strike even though the latest negotiations failed to reach an agreement. Previously, (EWG) flight attendants (CA) went on a 24-hour strike October 27, resulting in 393 flight cancellations out of 551 scheduled flights for the day, affecting 40,000 passengers.

Lufthansa (DLH) established (EWG) as a pan-European (LCC) platform, which is expected to grow to 100 aircraft, as competition from (LCC)s (such UK’s easyJet (EZY), Ireland’s Ryanair (RYR) and Spain’s Vueling (VUZ)) increases to a 50% market share in Europe.

News Item A-5: "German Pilots' Union Says to Resume Talks with Lufthansa" by Maria Sheahan, "Reuters" December 09, 2016.

German pilots' union Vereinigung Cockpit said it would resume wage talks with Lufthansa (DLH) and would hold off further strikes until the end of negotiations. It said on December 9th it would discuss options including mediation in these talks.

The union is currently reviewing (DLH)'s latest pay offer, which came after 6 days of strikes last month that cost the (DLH), the German flagship carrier EUR100 million/US$106 million in lost profit.

News Item A-6: "Lufthansa, Pilot Union Agree to Arbitration" by (ATW) Kurt Hofmann, December 16, 2016.

Lufthansa (DLH) and the Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) pilot (FC) union have agreed to arbitration by the end of January 2017, in an effort to resolve a pay dispute that has resulted in repeated strikes. The
(VC) union has agreed to maintain industrial peace until then.

On December 13, it was reported that the latest round of (VC) pilot strikes will affect Lufthansa Group earnings by €100 million/$106 million in the 4th quarter. In November, (VC) called members to go on strike for 6 days, forcing Lufthansa (DLH) to cancel 4,500 flights, affecting more than half a million passengers.

According to a December 16 statement from Lufthansa (DLH), the parties have not publicly identified the mediator. “We have had some intense talks over the past months and have now succeeded in agreeing on arbitration for the collective wage agreement. The negotiating table is the only place where we can find solutions that offer prospects for employees and for the company,” (DLH) Head of Human Resources & Legal Affairs Bettina Volkens said.

“I am confident that we will be able to develop a fair solution with the assistance of a mediator. We want to arrive at a long-term industrial peace in cooperation with (VC) (for our customers, our employees and our shareholders),” Volkens said.

News Item A-7: The Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) has approved a proposed joint venture (JV) between Lufthansa (DLH) and Singapore Airlines (SIA), subject to certain voluntary conditions.

On February 5, (DLH) and (SIA) sought permission to cooperate on routes between the Asia-Pacific region (Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore) and Europe (Austria, Belgium, Germany and Switzerland).

The (CCS) said the 2 airlines were looking for clearance to work together on pricing, inventory management, sales and marketing. They also asked to coordinate schedules, capacity and revenues on services from Singapore to Frankfurt, Düsseldorf, Munich and Zurich. However, (DLH) and (SIA) hold 80% of the Singapore - Frankfurt and Singapore - Zurich market, so the (CCS) said price and capacity coordination on these routes “would raise competition concerns.” The (CCS) was particularly worried about capacity reductions and fare increases, should the (JV) be approved.

The 2 airlines offered to maintain and increase capacity on both routes and carry a minimum number of Singapore passengers. An independent auditor will also be appointed to monitor compliance with the conditions. “The (CCS) is of the view that the competition concerns identified by the (CCS) on these 2 routes will be addressed with these commitments, and the proposed (JV) will result in net economic benefits to Singapore,” the regulator said, approving the (JV).

January 2017: News Item A-1: Airberlin (BER) Austrian subsidiary, FlyNiki (NKI) will cut 13 European destinations from January 30, as well as its daily Vienna to Abu Dhabi route from the end of March, (NKI) spokesperson Milene Platzer said. The move is part of plans to create a new, yet-to-be named leisure airline group based in Vienna.

The new leisure airline, which needs regulatory approval, will be 25% owned by Abu Dhabi-based, the Etihad (EHD) Aviation Group and 24.8% owned by German holiday company the (TUI) Group (TUG). The remaining 50.2% share is expected to be held by an Austrian foundation to ensure Austrian majority ownership and maintain international traffic rights.

The new carrier will operate aircraft from the (TUI) Group’s TUIfly airline (HAP)/(HLX) and FlyNiki (NKI). It expects to operate 63 aircraft on point-to-point services in European tourist markets. The fleet includes 41 Boeing 737s from TUIfly (HAP)/(HLX) as well FlyNiki (NKI) fleet of 22 Airbus (EDS) aircraft, “which will be harmonized to an all A321 fleet,” Platzer said.

The eliminated European routes from Vienna include Stockholm, Hamburg, Hannover, Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia, Nice, Paris, Zurich, Rom, Milan, Alicante, and Malta.

It is understood that some of these routes will be taken over by Lufthansa (DLH) low-cost carrier (LCC) subsidiary Eurowings (EWG), which expand its base in Vienna further by adding +13 new routes in the spring.

On December 5, 2016, Oneworld (ONW) Alliance member airberlin (BER) announced the sale of 49.8% of its Austrian subsidiary FlyNiki (NKI) to Etihad (EHD) for €300 million/$320 million.

From the start of the summer 2017 schedule, and prior to the closing of the FlyNiki (NKI) sale, airberlin (BER) will transfer slots for certain tourist destinations in Southern Europe (excluding Italy but including the Canary Islands, Spain and Madeira, Portugal), North Africa and Turkey to FlyNiki (NKI).

FlyNiki (NKI) expects to operate 27 leisure destinations in summer 2017, compared to 34 destinations in summer 2016.

* Abu Dhabi-based the Etihad Aviation Group and German holiday company the (TUI) Group will reportedly name the planned European leisure airline group FlyNiki (NKI), a source involved in the negotiations said. The source said the new (NKI) operations should start by the end of March or April, beginning with the European summer season. The new leisure airline group will be headquartered in Vienna. (NKI) is expected to operate 60 aircraft on point-to-point services to key tourist markets.

A321-211 (1988, OE-LCG), AerCap (DEA) leased, (5133, OE-LCK), Orix Aviation leased.

March 2017: airberlin (BER), which has transferred its leisure routes to Austrian subsidiary FlyNiki (NKI), said the 1st (NKI) Dusseldorf - Palma de Mallorca service began on March 26.

The switch is part of a rescue program for Oneworld (ONW) Alliance member airberlin (BER), which announced the sale of 49.8% FlyNiki (NKI) to Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways (EHD) for €300 million/$320 million in December 2016.

Airberlin (BER) reported a 2015 3rd-quarter loss of -€45.6 million/-$51.2 million, reversed from a +€56.2 million profit in the year-ago quarter. “I expect the 4th quarter will also deliver very negative results,” according to a (BER).

FlyNiki (NKI) will operate from Dusseldorf to 16 destinations in Spain, Portugal, and the Canary and Greek Islands. Palma de Mallorca, for example, will be served by 7 non stop daily flights.

Airberlin (BER) launched its 1st route in 1979 from Berlin to Palma de Mallorca.

(BER) (CCO) Götz Ahmelmann said, “It is a matter of great importance to us that we are handing over the baton to our partner FlyNiki (NKI) who will operate flights to holiday destinations on our behalf. For airberlin (BER), this marks an important milestone on its way to becoming a network carrier with a focused global route network and a unique portfolio of premium services,” he said.

“FlyNiki (NKI) is set to become the number 1 holiday airline in German-speaking countries,” (NKI) (CCO) Julio Rodriguez said.

As a result of this move, FlyNiki (NKI) will become the 3rd-largest airline in Dusseldorf after the Lufthansa Group and airberlin (BER), both in terms of passenger numbers and aircraft movements.

(NKI) will base 8 out of 21 Airbus A321s in Dusseldorf. 4 aircraft will be based in Zurich, taking over leisure routes from airberlin (BER)’s Swiss subsidiary Belair, which reportedly could close down in 2017. 5 A321s will be based in Vienna and the remaining ones will be spread out over several German airports such as Munich or Hanover.

FlyNiki (FKI) will wet-lease 2 Boeing 737-800s from Slovakia-based Go2Sky to cover summer peaks.

Airberlin (BER) will use Dusseldorf as a hub. During the summer 2017, (BER) will fly to 38 destinations from Dusseldorf including routes to the USA and the Caribbean.

FlyNiki (FKI) is part of a planned European leisure airline group to be established by the Etihad Airways Group and German holiday company the (TUI) Group (TUG), pending regulatory approval. The new leisure airline group, which was announced in October 2016, is expected to be headquartered in Vienna. The carrier plans to operate 60 aircraft on point-to-point services to key tourist markets and would have a 35% market share in the Germany/Austria/Switzerland leisure business.

A320-214 (2867, D-ABHG) transferred to Air Berlin (BER). A321-211 (1994, OE-LCS), ex-(D-ALSB), (GECAS) (GEF) leased.

June 2017: News Item A-1: "Etihad, (TUI) Group Calls Off Plans for New Leisure Airline" by Kurt Hofmann, June 8, 2017.

The Etihad (EHD) Aviation Group and German holiday company the (TUI) Group have ended plans to establish a new European leisure airline group. “I can confirm that negotiations on this project, which have been on hold since the end of 2016, have ended.”

In October 2016, the partners detailed plans to combine the leisure operations of the airberlin (BER) group and German carrier (TUI)fly (HAP)/(HLX) into a new airline group, serving destinations from Austria, Germany and Switzerland. (BER) was expected to operate 58 aircraft on point-to-point services to key tourist markets.

The Etihad Aviation Group also confirmed it terminated negotiations with the (TUI) Group, saying it has taken this decision following many months of negotiations in good faith. However, Etihad (EHD) said the parties had been unable to reach agreement on the final nature of such a joint venture (JV).

A source close to Austria-based FlyNiki (NKI) said the news from Abu Dhabi came as shock. Both brands: TUIfly (HAP)/(HLX) and FlyNiki (NKI) already operate in parallel with around 60 aircraft in the current summer period. “It is a clever strategy to create a strong European leisure-airline because there is too much capacity in Germany. But FlyNiki (NKI) is not available anymore,” (TUI) (TUG) board member Sebastian Ebel said June 7. “We will continue to push ahead with the repositioning of TUIfly (HAP)/(HLX) in order to develop a long-term perspective for the airline and its employees.”

According to Etihad (EHD), the leisure operations of the airberlin (BER) group will now continue to operate as a separate business unit under the FlyNiki (NKI) brand. Further details of this structure will be announced by airberlin (BER). (NKI)’s operating schedule remains unchanged with all bookings being honored; however, customers should contact (NKI) directly for any further information.

On December 5, 2016, Oneworld (ONW) Alliance member airberlin (BER) announced the sale of 49.8% of its Austrian subsidiary FlyNiki (NKI) to Abu Dhabi-based Etihad (EHD) for €300 million/$320 million), an investment that is important for financially troubled airberlin (BER).

At this point in time, it remains unclear what will happen with the €300 million (EHD) has already given to airberlin (BER).

The original plan had called for (TUI) AG (TUG) to hold 24.8% of shares in the (JV), with (EHD) holding a 25% stake. The remaining 50.2% shares will continue to be held by FlyNiki (NKI).

News Item A-2: News Item A-2: "Etihad, airberlin Outline FlyNiki’s Future" by Kurt Hofmann, June 9, 2017.

The Etihad Aviation Group and Germany-based airberlin (BER) have confirmed the sale of Austrian subsidiary FlyNiki (NKI). The 2 companies said the sale will proceed at an agreed-upon time and in a manner compliant with European Union (EU) regulations; further details will be provided in due course, according to a statement released June 9. Until the sale is completed, (NKI) will continue to operate as a separate business unit within the (BER) group with a focus on short- and medium-haul leisure destinations. “The (NKI) flight schedule for winter 2017 has been published and all bookings remain valid.”

In December 2016, (BER) said it had reached an agreement with the Etihad Investment Company for the sale of the shares it indirectly held in (NIK) Luftfahrt GmbH. On December 5, 2016, Oneworld (ONW) Alliance member (BER) announced the sale of 49.8% of (NKI) to Etihad (EHD) for €300 million/$320 million.

In October 2016, the partners detailed plans to combine the leisure operations of the airberlin (BER) group and German carrier TUIfly (HAP)/(HLX) into a new airline group, serving destinations from Austria, Germany and Switzerland. The airline was expected to operate 58 aircraft on point-to-point services to key tourist markets.

On June 8, the Etihad Aviation Group and German holiday company the (TUI) Group (TUG) said they ended plans to establish a new European leisure airline group, which included FlyNiki (NKI).

“Within the airberlin (BER) group there will be 2 clearly identified separated divisions: flights to long-haul destinations and to major business centers throughout Germany and the rest of Europe, [which] will be operated by (BER) from Dusseldorf and Berlin,” (BER) (CEO) Thomas Winkelmann said on June 9.

“(NKI), as a standalone business, will offer flights to popular leisure destinations for holidaymakers. With this, both the new airberlin (BER) and the leisure business operated by FlyNiki (NKI), can be properly addressed with the right organization and resources until the acquisition of (NKI) is completed,” he said.

Etihad Aviation Group interim (CEO) Ray Gammell added: “We continue to support the efforts of the (BER) management team as it continues its transformation. Similarly, our commitment to support (NKI) still stands and we aim to finalize the transaction soon.”

On June 9, (NKI) appointed Armin Bovensiepen as (CCO), replacing Julio Rodriguez.

737-46J (27171, OM-GTD), ex-(G-CIOE), all white with Niki titles and logo.

August 2017: Amid intense pressure to find quick solutions for the failing airberlin (BER) business, the company’s creditor committee is expected to grant preliminary approval for the sale of Austrian affiliate Niki (NKI) to Lufthansa (DLH) at its August 23 meeting. Industry sources say the body is to wave through an (LOI) for (NKI), one of the few parts of the Airberlin Group not operating under bankruptcy protection.

September 2017: News Item A-1: Niki Lauda, ex-Formula 1 champion and founder of Austria-based airberlin (BER) subsidiary NIKI (NKI), is partnering with UK-based Thomas Cook Group (GUE)/(JMA) and its German leisure airline subsidiary Condor (CDF) to bid for (NKI) and other parts of (BER). Lauda confirmed the consortium as the September 15 deadline nears for potential buyers of the bankrupt German carrier.

News Item A-2: The Lufthansa Group and UK-based (LCC) easyJet (EZY) have been selected as preferred bidders for the main assets of the insolvent airberlin (BER). Lufthansa (DLH) also submitted a bid for (BER)’s Austria-based subsidiary NIKI (NKI), which could be integrated into its (LCC) arm Eurowings (EWG). (BER) Administrator Lucas Flöther had planned to keep these decisions confidential until September 25, after Germany’s September 24 general elections.

October 2017: News Item A-1: Lufthansa (DLH) has signed a €210 million/$249 million deal to take over a large part of bankrupt airberlin (BER)’s assets, including NIKI (NKI) and regional carrier (LGW), in a move that will give its low-cost Eurowings (EWG) affiliate a boost.

(DLH) (CEO) Carsten Spohr told German newspaper "Rheinische Post" on October 12 that (DLH) is expected to take over 81 aircraft, employ 3,000 people and invest a total of €1.5 billion or €500,000 per job saved in the deal.

News Item A-2: Bankrupt German carrier airberlin (BER) operated its last flight on October 27 from Munich to Berlin Tegel. The final Airbus A320 flight carried 178 passengers.

The Oneworld (ONW) Alliance member ceased operations officially on October 28, ending nearly 39 years of service. (BER) launched 1st flights in 1979 and carried >500 million passengers during that time.

Last-minute negotiations with both German leisure carrier Condor (CDF) and UK (LCC) easyJet (EZY) on the transfer of assets continue, but many airberlin (BER) aircraft are expected to be grounded at least temporarily. With the grounding, the German aviation system will lose 60,000 passengers seats and 250 flights every day.

For now, only NIKI (NKI) and Luftfahrtgesellschaft Walter (LGW) continue to fly as a result of the planned takeover by the Lufthansa Group. They operate a combined fleet of 54 aircraft, including 14 Boeing 737s (NIKI) wet-leases from TUIfly (HAP)/(HLX).

Airberlin (BER) filed for bankruptcy August 15 after 29.2% shareholder Etihad Airways (EHD) withdrew financial support. Several thousand employees are expected to be laid off as airberlin (BER) enters formal bankruptcy proceedings on November 1.

Before the August bankruptcy filing, airberlin (BER) operated 144 aircraft, many of which have already been returned to lessors. Among others, all 17 Airbus A330-200s have been handed back.

As (BER) ceases operations, both Berlin airports (Tegel and Schoenefeld) are temporarily expecting fewer passengers, but soon the numbers will grow again, Managing Direction Berlin Brandenburg Airport Engelbert Lütke Daldrup told German Press Agency dpa. “In a few weeks, all the [former airberlin (BER)] slots will be allocated and the Berlin airports will have no growth-reduction in the long run.”

Berlin-based Zeitfracht-Gruppe will take over maintenance unit, airberlin Technik, and 300 of its 850 employees.

December 2017: News Item A-1: Germany-based regional carrier (LGW) has begun wet-lease Airbus A320 operations for Lufthansa (LCC) subsidiary Eurowings (EWG) as part of the Lufthansa Group’s €210 million/$247 million bid to take over a large part of bankrupt airberlin (BER) assets, which includes Austria’s (NIKI) (NKI) and carrier (LGW). “This is a special achievement for us, because we have not had this aircraft in our fleet yet,” (LGW) Head of Operations Peter Knecht said.

Dortmund-based carrier (LGW) begin cooperating with the bankrupt airberlin (BER) in 2007, later becoming a subsidiary. It ceased operations along with airberlin (BER) October 27 until it became part of the Lufthansa (DLH) takeover deal.

Eurowings (EWG) plans to take over carrier (LGW)’s regional arm with 830 employees. “We have to make this company [LGW] Airbus-firm,” Eurowings Europe (EWG) (CEO) Thorsten Dirks said in Vienna.

Since early November, carrier (LGW) has operated 17 wet-leased aircraft (so far only Bombardier Dash 8-Q400s for Eurowings Europe (EWG).

“The operational step from a propeller aircraft to jets is enormous,” Eurowings Europe (EWG) Managing Director & (COO) Michael Knitter said.
In the near future, carrier (LGW) plans to add 12 more A320s for Eurowings (EWG) wet-lease operations.

However, Dirks said the Lufthansa Group hopes the airberlin deal will close by the end of the year. Asked what would happen if competition authorities do not approve the deal, Dirks said, “Then we have invested a lot of money, €1.5 billion, and you will have 2 more carriers (LGW) and (NIKI) (NKI) going into bankruptcy. That’s the situation today.”

News Item A-2: The European Commission (EC) has allowed easyJet (EZY) to take over airberlin (BER)’s Berlin Tegel Airport base, but there are increasing concerns that airberlin (BER) subsidiary (NIKI) (NKI) may collapse if the (EC) blocks its takeover by Lufthansa (DLH).

News Item A-3: "NIKI Files for Bankruptcy; Ceases Operations" by Jens Flottau (ATW) Plus, December 13, 2017.

Airberlin (BER) subsidiary (NIKI) filed for bankruptcy on December 13 and said it will cease flight operations immediately. The decision came after a tumultuous day that saw several dramatic turns. Earlier in the day, Lufthansa (DLH) informed airberlin (BER) Administrator Frank Kebekus that it was terminating the purchase agreement for (NIKI). (DLH) argued it had received clear signals that the European Commission (EC) would not approve the takeover.

News Item A-4: "NIKI Bankruptcy Leaves Thousands of Passengers Stranded" by Kurt Hofmann , December 14, 2017.

Airberlin (BER) subsidiary (NIKI) (NKI) (which filed for insolvency December 13 and abruptly ceased operations) has left up to 40,000 passengers stranded throughout its European network after a rescue deal by Lufthansa (DLH) collapsed, 4 months after airberlin (BER) filed for bankruptcy.

(DLH) had planned to integrate (NKI) into its own Eurowings (EWG).

A source from air navigation services provider Austro Control confirmed that (NKI) management transferred (NKI)’s air operator’s certificate (AOC) to Austro Control on the evening of December 13. “This move would allow (NKI)’s (AOC) to be re-established very quickly if necessary,” the source said.

Austrian Minister of Transport Jörg Leichtfried told Austrian TV (ORF) the government is talking with Austrian Airlines (AUL) and other carriers to bring passengers home. “We estimate the grounding has affected 5,000 passengers from Austria,” he said.

(AUL) (CEO) Kay Kratky confirmed (AUL) is on standby to provide return flights for stranded passengers.

Several German airlines have offered (NKI) passengers so-called “rescue-fares” (if seats are available) at special rates for the return flight to Germany. If a flight was booked with a tour operator as part of a package, the tour operator is responsible for arranging alternative transportation for stranded passengers.

A source from the Austrian travel agency industry said there are 350,000 (NKI) tickets affected, which have already been purchased.

Leisure travel group Thomas Cook (ATW)/(GUE) has confirmed it is interested in buying (NIKI) (NKI). “We are evaluating our options including the purchase of (NKI) or parts of the airline,” a Thomas Cook (GUE)/ spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, (NKI) Founder Niki Lauda said he is still interested in taking over the insolvent airline. “We have to secure jobs here in Austria and I would like to fly with (NKI) again. But I need more information to find out the current status of this complex topic. No one can bid on an airline if you don’t have information,” he said. Asked if he would like to team up again with Condor (CDF)/Thomas Cook Group for a bid, Lauda said he would prefer to “do it on my own because this [the deal] goes faster.”

Meanwhile, Austrian Airlines (AUL) confirmed that it is offering jobs for (NKI) employees and launched a special “Fast Track Selection.” (AUL) is currently looking for several hundred employees, especially up to 200 ready entry pilots (FC) (fully trained pilots) and about 300 flight attendants (CA). The Star (SAL) Alliance member also has demand for about 50 to 100 Maintenance Technicians (MT) and 20 administrator jobs.

(DLH) low-cost carrier (LCC) affiliate Eurowings (EWG) said December 13 it plans to hire 1,600 additional employees for its growth and offering job opportunities also in Vienna and Salzburg (Austria).

News Item A-5: Airberlin (BER) subsidiary NIKI (NKI)’s Administrator plans to continue negotiations with 4 bidders that have submitted binding offers for the insolvent airline. (NKI) Administrator Lucas Floether said December 22 the talks will conclude by the end of the following week, to ensure (NKI)’s operating certificate remains in effect and its airport slots are not lost. According to industry sources, the 4 bidders include British Airways (BAB) parent the International Airlines Group (IAG) and travel group Thomas Cook Airlines (GUE)/(JMA).

News Item A-6: "(IAG) in Exclusive Takeover Talks for Niki (Source Close to Process)" by "Reuters, December 29, 2017.

British International Air Group (IAG) is in exclusive talks to buy Niki (NKI), Air Berlin (BER)'s insolvent Austrian airline, a source close to the process said, after (NKI)'s administrator said that 1 bidder out of 4 remained. Besides (IAG), the owner of British Airways and low-cost carrier Vueling (VUZ), bidders for holiday airline (NKI) included tour operators (TUI) (TUG), Thomas Cook (GUE)/(JMA) and former Formula One world champion Niki Lauda.

"(IAG) is the last remaining bidder and is still negotiating now," the source said, adding that the company had put in the highest offer (a double-digit million-euro amount). German newspaper Bild put the figure at around EUR40 million/US$48 million).

Niki Lauda, (NKI)'s Founder, was quoted as saying on the website of newspaper "Die Presse" that he was out of the running. A source said Thomas Cook GUE)/(JMA) was also out of the race.

Die Presse also reported, without citing sources, that (IAG) was likely to be the last bidder. (IAG) and Thomas Cook's Condor (CDF) subsidiary declined to comment.

"The provisional creditors' committee for (NKI) decided to continue sales negotiations for the business operations of the company exclusively with one bidder for now," the spokesman of administrator Lucas Floether said. "(The committee) tasked the provisional administrator Floether to conclusively negotiate the purchase contract over the coming days."

Austrian news agency (APA) quoted an internal letter sent by Floether and the Niki (NKI) management to its employees that the new investor would not split up the company's business and would keep most of its employees. The new owner will have to pay (NKI)'s running costs, including salaries for its roughly 1,000 employees in Austria and Germany, from the beginning of January, Floether said.

(NKI) was part of collapsed Air Berlin. (BER) filed for insolvency after Germany's Lufthansa (DLH) dropped a plan to buy the assets of (NKI) on competition concerns, grounding the fleet and stranding thousands of passengers.

The administrators had been racing to find an alternative buyer for its assets before it loses its take-off and landing slots, its most attractive assets.

News Item A-7: "(BAB) Owner (IAG) Confirms NIKI Deal" by
Alan Dron and Kurt Hofmann December 29, 2017.

The International Airlines Group (IAG), parent company of British Airways (BAB), Aer Lingus (ARL), Iberia (IBE) and Vueling (VUZ) is adding NIKI (NKI) to its portfolio after sealing a deal to acquire (NKI) for €20 million/$24 million.

(IAG) (CEO) Willie Walsh confirmed the deal December 29 after the (IAG) was left the sole remaining bidder for (NKI), which went into insolvency after its parent airline, airberlin (BER), ceased operations in October this year. (NKI), founded by former racing driver Niki Lauda, filed for bankruptcy on December 13 after Lufthansa (DLH) withdrew its offer. The European Commission (EC) had expressed competition concerns about Lufthansa (DLH)’s bid.

A statement from (IAG), released mid-evening Vienna time, December 29, said the multi-national company would pay for the assets, which include up to 15 Airbus A320-family aircraft and what (IAG) described as “an attractive slot portfolio” at airports including Vienna, Düsseldorf, Munich, Palma, and Zurich. Additionally, (IAG) will provide liquidity to (NKI) of up to €16.5 million.

The transaction is being made by a newly-formed subsidiary of Spanish (LCC) Vueling (VUZ), 1 of (IAG)’s airlines. The new subsidiary will be incorporated as an Austrian company and run initially as a separate operation. The deal is subject to customary closing conditions, including the (EC) approving the move.

It was the (EC)’s reluctance to allow Lufthansa (DLH) to take over (NKI) on competition grounds that led to (DLH), the German flag-carrier withdrawing from the deal, triggering (NKI)’s bankruptcy.
The new company aims to employ around 740 former (NKI) employees to run the operation. (NKI) operated a leased fleet of around 20 Airbus A321s and 7 wet-leased TUIfly (HAP)/(HLX) Boeing 737s. (NKI) has 1,000 staff.

“NIKI (NKI) was the most financially viable part of airberlin (BER) and its focus on leisure travel means it’s a great fit with Vueling (VUZ),” Walsh said. “This deal will enable (VUZ) to increase its presence in Austria, Germany and Switzerland and provide the region’s consumers with more choice of low-cost air travel”.

Further details about the new subsidiary’s branding and route network will be provided at a later date, said the (IAG).

NIKI (NKI) suspended flight operations on December 14 after 14 years of flying. Launched in 2003, it announced a cooperation with airberlin (BER) in 2004, before completely merging with (BER) in 2011, with it sharing operations, booking systems and aircraft. With (BER) folding in October, it was unsure what was going to happen to (NKI). Lufthansa (DLH) showed interest in (NKI) as part of its discussions to acquire (BER), however these talks never came to fruition. This left the door wide open for the (IAG) to come to an agreement to purchase (NKI) for €20 million at the end of December, giving the (IAG) access to 15 A321s and additional traffic rights at Berlin Tegel, Düsseldorf, Munich, Vienna, Zurich and Palma de Mallorca. A further €16.5 million is to be used to shore up its capital reserves.

* Palma was (NKI)’s prime airport

Palma de Mallorca was by far (NKI)’s largest airport, with the Balearic island being home to around 28% of (NKI)’s departing seat capacity in 2017. This should come as no surprise, given the popularity of the Spanish market for the airline, with the nation accounting for 40% of its departing seat capacity in 2017, ahead of Germany (38% of departing seats in 2017), its home market of Austria (6.7%) and Switzerland (5.5%). Along with Palma de Mallorca, Malaga and Gran Canaria are also in Spain and make it into (NKI)’s top 12 airports. In total (NKI)’s leading airports accounted for 72% of its departing seats last year.

In the 1st 11 months of 2017, (NKI) flew just over >5 million passengers to/from Spain, giving (NKI) a theoretical load factor of just <85% LF. Of those passengers, 3.58 million flew to/from Palma de Mallorca. During the same period of last year, Vueling (VUZ) flew 32.4 million passengers to/from Spain, with 2.08 million of those being Palma de Mallorca passengers. With the addition of (NKI)’s traffic to that already generated by (VUZ), the combined throughput for both could make it the largest airline at Palma de Mallorca, as (NKI) between January and November carried just 400,000 passengers less than the airport’s number 1 carrier Ryanair (RYR). Thr (IAG) has confirmed that more details about the new subsidiary’s branding and route network will be provided in due course, but given the power of Palma de Mallorca and the slots which the (IAG) will gain at the airport, it will be a surprise if the destination is not a major part of the network, even if the main focus of the acquisition is to grow Vueling (VUZ)’s brand in Austria, Germany and Switzerland.

* The perfect fit for Vueling (VUZ)’s existing presence in region

An examination of (VUZ)’s top airports in Austria, Germany and Switzerland shows that (NKI)’s current network fits perfectly into (VUZ)’s existing operation to the region, with 8 of the 11 airports (VUZ) operates to in the 3 countries being part of (NKI)’s top 12 destinations (all highlighted in light green). The only airport’s not appearing in (NKI)’s top 12 are Geneva, Basel and Hannover, but the latter 2 were still part of (NKI)’s network before flying stopped a few weeks ago. (NKI) did not operate from Geneva last year.

(NKI) was the 8th largest airline operating in the German, Austrian and Swiss region in 2017 (excluding airberlin (BER)), sitting just behind Condor (CDF) but ahead of British Airways (BAB). The purchase of (NKI) will propel (VUZ), which currently sits as the nations’ 22nd largest operator, to being the region’s 7th biggest airline, sitting just behind Ryanair (RYR). “(NKI) was the most financially viable part of airberlin (BER) and its focus on leisure travel means it’s a great fit with (VUZ),” commented (IAG) (CEO) Willie Walsh. “This deal enables (VUZ) to increase its presence in Austria, Germany and Switzerland and provide the region’s consumers with more choice of low-cost air travel.” The newly-formed subsidiary of (VUZ) will be incorporated as an Austrian company and run as a separate operation to begin with. It is still subject to customary closing conditions such as European Commission (EC) competition approval.

* Will be hard to keep up with Eurowings (EWG) and easyJet (EZY)

While this deal does allow for a major capacity increase to expand (VUZ)’s brand awareness and operation in the region, the new venture would still be dwarfed by (LCC)s (EWG) (2nd largest airline in Austria, Germany and Switzerland – 21.16 million one-way seats in 2017) and (EZY) (4th – 12.69 million). Both have also been expanding rapidly in the region during recent months. (EZY) purchased part of (BER)’s assets for €40 million to create its own Berlin Tegel operation which begins operations this week. (EZY) has also established an Austrian (AOC) to allow it to continue inter-European flying post "Brexit." (IAG) also plans to operate its new Vueling (VUZ) unit under an Austrian (AOC). Eurowings (EWG) has added capacity to its Vienna and Salzburg operations during the past 12 months, along with its many bases in Germany which coincidentally appear in (NKI)’s top 12 airports, including its new Munich operation. Not only that, but (EWG) has also opened a base at Palma de Mallorca, (NKI)’s number 1 airport. So the (IAG) will have to work hard to crack the market with its new operation, particularly given the negativity around the airberlin (BER) brand in recent years. Nonetheless, a further advantage that this deal gives the (IAG), and indeed Oneworld (ONW), is an improved foothold in the Star (SAL) Alliance’s backyard, in a 3 country market currently dominated by Lufthansa (dlh), SWISS (CSR), Austrian (AUL) and Eurowings (EWG).

January 2018: Austria-based airberlin (BER) subsidiary NIKI (NKI) (CEO) Oliver Lackmann confirmed he will step down by the end of February as the deal with the International Airlines Group (IAG) hit a snag.

“It is logical that with a new ownership (of NIKI) it will also lead to a new management,” Lackmann said. Lackmann, a former Airbus (EDS) A320/330 captain with airberlin (BER), became (CEO) in April 2016.

Airberlin (BER) filed for bankruptcy August 2017 and ceased operations in October 2017.

NIKI (NKI) (which filed for insolvency December 13, 2017 and abruptly ceased operations) is still waiting for approval to be taken over by the International Airlines Group (IAG) after sealing a deal at the end of December to acquire the Austrian carrier for €20 million/$24 million.

However, a Berlin regional court (Landgericht) ruled earlier this week that bankruptcy proceedings should be conducted in the Austrian regional court in Korneuburg (near Vienna), rather than in Germany, which may put the (IAG) takeover deal in jeopardy.

Some reasons for that decision are that even though the majority of (NKI)’s revenues were generated in Germany, (NKI) conducted analysis, financial accounting and other administrative tasks at its main headquarters in Vienna.

Meanwhile, as expected, (NKI) also filed for bankruptcy in Austria on January 11, 2018, which could wind up being in parallel with the insolvency house pending in Germany.

The application for bankruptcy proceedings is Austria is said to have been filed by the German insolvency administrator Lucas Flöther. The application was for a so-called secondary procedure, which Korneuburg judges are verifying. “We assume [we will be able to work] together with the courts in Austria and Germany [for a solution so] the deal with (IAG) can be completed.”

Austrian aviation authorityAustrocontrol has also extended (NKI)’s Austrian air operator’s certificate (AOC) by 3 months until March so (NKI) will not lose its slots.

The (IAG) has said it will continue to work with all parties to ensure the transaction goes through as planned. The (IAG) group intends to eventually relaunch (NKI) as an Austrian-based unit of its (LCC) subsidiary Vueling (VUZ).

February 2018: Austria’s Laudamotion receives Airplane Operating Certificate (AOC)" by Kurt Hofmann (, February 28, 2018.

Laudamotion (NKI), the rebranded bankrupt airberlin (BER) subsidiary (NIKI), has received an air operator’s certificate (AOC) from Austrian aviation authority Austro Control.

Niki Lauda, ex-Formula 1 Champion and Founder of Austria-based (NIKI), retook ownership of the bankrupt carrier in January and re-branded it as "Laudamotion."

(NIKI) (NKI) filed for insolvency Decembr 13, 2017 and abruptly ceased operations, 4 months after airberlin (BER) filed for bankruptcy when Etihad Airways (EHD), which owned a 29.2% stake in (BER), ended further financial support.

Laudamotion is Lauda’s 5th airline: Lauda Air I (ceased operations 1983), Lauda Air II (taken over by Austrian Airlines (AUL) in 2002), Lauda Air Italy (sold to a tour operator), and (NIKI).

On February 16, German leisure carrier Condor (CDF) said it will market selected Laudamotion flights from Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Stuttgart (Germany) and Basel (Switzerland) to Palma de Mallorca, Ibiza and Malaga (Spain). In addition, (CDF) will provide operational functions, such as traffic control or crew planning.

In an internal letter to employees, Lauda noted that 40,000 passengers had already booked Laudamotion tickets via Condor (CDF), which is part of Thomas Cook leisure travel group (TUG). A spokesman confirmed that Condor (CDF) also “plans to buy seat contingents on Laudamotion flights.”

“The exact date when we start operations is too early to say. I have 15 Airbus [A320 family aircraft] on the radar,” Lauda said recently.

March 2018: News Item A-1: "Laudamotion to Relaunch New Branding in October, Eyes A320neo" by Kurt Hofmann, (ATW) Premium Content, March 16.

Laudamotion, the rebranded bankrupt airberlin (BER) Austria-based subsidiary NIKI (NKI) will launch March 25 with an interim branding on former airberlin (BER) aircraft.

News Item A-2: "Ex-Car-Race Ace Lauda's Reclaimed, Rebranded Airline Targets 2019 Profit" by Kirsti Knolle, "Reuters" March 16, 2018.

Niki Lauda aims to turn a profit from next year with Laudamotion, the airline he has rebranded after buying it back from insolvent Air Berlin (BER), the ex-motor racing champion said.

The former Niki airline (NKI), which he founded in 2003, will begin operations under its new name on March 25 with 6 leased aircraft. Its 1st flight will be from Duesseldorf, Germany, to Palma de Mallorca.

"You cannot expect to make money in the 1st year. But if you make it right, you should start earning money from the 2nd year on," Lauda said in a news conference in Vienna.

The 3x-times Formula One champion pipped British Airways (BAB) owner (IAG) to win the bidding for Niki (NKI) in January, initially investing around EUR50 million/US$62 million and then more to relaunch operations.

Lauda said he will add flights from Switzerland from April and from Austria from June, expanding the fleet to 21 planes. (NKI) will fly to holiday destinations in Greece, Spain and Italy in summer and add city shuttles and charter flights later this year.

"Shuttles at the right price with the right product, plus charter flights, this is what we need, and my goal is to implement that from autumn," he said.

Of the 60,000 takeoff and landing slots he bought as Niki assets only 40,000 were needed, and he will return 20,000.

The 69-year old Austrian has a deal in place for German holiday airline Condor (CDF), part of Thomas Cook (GUE)/(JMA), to sell flights for Laudamotion and provide marketing and crew planning.

It is as yet unclear how a cooperation planned with Lufthansa (DLH) could be organized.

(DLH) talks with the Austrian regulator on Friday should shed some light on whether (DLH)'s budget unit Eurowings (EWG) could also sell Laudamotion flights, and whether it could lease back planes from Laudamotion including crew ((FC) - (CA)).

"We need to know what is allowed and what is not," he said.

Lauda, under time pressure to sell tickets for the summer, is keen to tap his rival's sales and marketing channels, while (DLH), which scrapped a plan to buy (NKI) due to European Commission (EC) concerns, wants to make use of Laudation's capacity.

Laudamotion currently has 641 staff and needs to hire about +50 additional flight attendants (CA) to operate the 21 planes, Lauda said.

News Item A-3: "O’Leary’s Winning Hand with Lauda" by Karen Walker
( in (ATW) Editor's Blog March 20, 2018.

Michael O’Leary must have played a lot of "Risk" as a boy. And he frequently won, judging by how he played his hand over LaudaMotion (NKI), a prize that was keenly sought by Lufthansa (DLH) and British Airways (BAB) owner, the (IAG).

The March 20 announcement that Ryanair (RYR) has struck a deal with Niki Lauda to take up to a 75% stake in his newly-acquired LaudaMotion (NKI) startup is a fascinating twist in a fast-changing story. It started years ago with Lauda himself, when the Formula 1 racing car champion and pilot (FC) launched NIKI (NKI), an Austrian-based airline that was acquired by airberlin (BER) in 2011.

After airberlin (BER) filed for bankruptcy and ceased operations in late 2017, and NIKI (NKI) also stopped operating. A small airline, with 1,000 staff operating a leased fleet of around 20 Airbus A321s and 7 wet-leased TUIfly (HAP)/(HLX) Boeing 737s, NIKI (NKI)'s strategic importance and potential was still clear and the industry giants were quick to advance. The (IAG) and Lufthansa (DLH) were among those that bid, for different reasons. (NKI)’s Vienna-based network across Austrian, German and Swiss cities, linking them to other popular European leisure destinations, lay in the heart of Lufthansa Group territory. A turf that Lufthansa (DLH) wants to defend from new (LCC) competition, and 1 where (IAG) (CEO) Willie Walsh hoped to grow by making (NKI) part of the (IAG)’s Spanish (LCC) Vueling (VUZ) operations. The (IAG) described (NKI)’s network with airports such as Dusseldorf, Munich, Palma, Vienna and Zurich as “an attractive slot portfolio.”

Not surprisingly given that portfolio, (NKI)’s bid to buy (NKI) was thwarted by European competition authorities. Walsh, who said (NKI) was “the most financially viable part of airberlin (BER),” believed he had sealed the deal with a €20 million/$24 million bid plus the provision of up to €16.5 million in liquidity. At the end of December, the (IAG)’s was the only remaining bid.

But then the courts stepped in and ruled that NIKI (NKI)’s bankruptcy process must be held in Austria, not Germany,. where the (IAG) deal was struck. This time, it was the (IAG)’s plan that was upended; by mid-January, Lauda himself was not just back in the game, but once more, the owner of his namesake airline. His was the winning bid for (NIKI), Austrian and German administrators declared January 23, and Lauda announced he would re-brand and relaunch "(NKI)" as "LaudaMotion." As we now know, however, the game was still not concluded. Always on the sidelines, quietly expressing interest but never really declaring his hand, was (RYR)'s O’Leary, a man not known for keeping his thoughts to himself.

As it turns out, he and his exec team have been spending some time in Vienna and negotiations went well, ending with an agreement in which (RYR), the Irish (LCC) giant will take a 24.9% stake in LaudaMotion (NKI), with a plan to grow ownership to 75% if competition authorities allow.

While (DLH) might protest, it’s hard to see what the competition watchdogs won’t like about this deal. Where (RYR) goes, ultra-low fares follow. (RYR)’s size, muscle and strong financial position will ensure not just the survival of a small (LCC) startup on (DLH)’s back door, but also its growth. Lauda and O’Leary will likely enjoy shaking up that market.

O’Leary kept his cards close through NIKI (NKI)’s final chapter. During that time, Walsh and Lufthansa Group (CEO) Carsten Spohr revealed quite a bit about how they intended to use the (NKI) assets. That will be important information to the Lauda - O’Leary team as they move forward with their new partnership. There may still be risk, but you can bet that with this leadership, every step will be meticulously calculated.

April 2018: Austrian startup LaudaMotion (NKI) and German leisure carrier Condor (CDF) will end their cooperation agreement by the end of April, both carriers confirmed April 9.

On February 16, (CDF) had agreed to market selected LaudaMotion (NKI) flights from Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Stuttgart (Germany) and Basel (Switzerland) to Palma de Mallorca, Ibiza and Malaga (Spain), with more destinations to follow.

However, at the end of March, LaudaMotion (NKI) Founder Niki Lauda agreed to sell a 24.9% stake to Irish (LCC) Ryanair (RYR), with the option of taking the share up to 75% following regulatory approvals. (RYR) is investing close to €100 million/$123 million into the equity as well as startup support.

“The 2 business (C) models became too different; the (RYR) investment has changed the fundamentals completely,” a source close to LaudaMotion management told (ATW).

Thomas Cook Group Chief Airline Officer Christoph Debus said Condor (CDF) will continue the sales cooperation until the end of April.

LaudaMotion (NKI) was created using assets acquired from Austrian carrier NIKI (NKI), which Lauda also founded. NIKI (NKI) became a 100% subsidiary of airberlin (BER) in 2011, but ceased operations in December after (BER) went into bankruptcy in October. Lufthansa (DLH) wanted to acquire (NIKI) (NKI) but was blocked by European competition authorities.

To help with a rapid resumption of flight operations, Lauda at the time agreed for Condor (CDF) to provide administrative, operational and Information Technology (IT) support. Flight operations will be transferred to LaudaMotion (NKI) within weeks.

“It is logical that we establish now our own Flight Operations, which is possible and no problem at all to do so. Meanwhile, more and more aircraft from Lufthansa (DLH) are joining our fleet,” Lauda told (ATW) in Vienna. He said the (CDF) partnership enabled (NKI) to build up operations in a short time.

LaudaMotion (NKI) flights can now be booked via (RYR). “Our cooperation with (RYR) is working very well,” Lauda said.

Lufthansa (DLH) (LCC) subsidiary Eurowings (EWG) Managing Director Oliver Wagner said in an April 11 telephone conference that (EWG) will continue to wet-lease 4 Airbus A320s from LaudaMotion (NKI) until the end of May. It is unclear if the agreement will be extended and is currently the subject of negotiations.

May 2018: News Item A-1: New Austrian carrier LaudaMotion (NKI) must postpone its plan to operate from Zurich, Switzerland, as (NKI) will not have enough aircraft available. “We will only have 19 aircraft in operation because it is not possible to get all necessary aircraft from leasing companies,” the spokesperson said. That means 2 aircraft less than originally planned.

News Item A-2: New Austrian carrier LaudaMotion (NKI) plans to launch an extensive European network (called "City Shuttle") from Vienna beginning with the winter schedule 2018/2019. (NKI) also plans to operate 8 or 9 Airbus A320neos this winter, (CEO) Founder and owner Niki Lauda said in an exclusive (ATW) interview. Lauda hopes to receive these aircraft as soon as possible. “Together with Ryanair (RYR), we are in talks with Airbus (EDS) and leasing companies to lease A320ceos and A320neos.”

June 2018: Laudamotion (NKI) has started 32 new sectors in the past week, as (NKI) looks to fill the void left behind by the now defunct airberlin (BER) and NIKI (NKI) operations.

The longest sector is the 3,668 km route from Berlin Tegel (TXL) to Tenerife South (TFS), whereas the shortest city pair is the link from Vienna (VIE) to Pisa (PSA), at 686 km. The average sector length of all 32 services is 1,743 km, while the average frequency is 5.1x-weekly.

Only 8 of the 32 airport pairs will see no incumbent airlines, with the Tegel to Heraklion (HER) route seeing Laudamotion (NKI) face 7 competing carriers.

July 2018: News Item A-1: "(EU) Approves LaudaMotion Takeover by Ryanair" by Kurt Hofmann (, July 13, 2018.

Ryanair (RYR) said it welcomed the European Commission (EC)’s decision to approve (RYR)’s proposed acquisition of a 75% interest in Austria-based LaudaMotion (NKI) on July 12.

(RYR) currently owns 24.9% in (NKI).

In March, (RYR) entered into partnership with Niki Lauda, ex-Formula 1 racing car champion and founder of bankrupt airberlin (BER) subsidiary NIKI (NKI), after he retook ownership of (NKI) in January and rebranded the bankrupt carrier as LaudaMotion. The new carrier launched operations March 25.

However, (RYR)’s dispute with Lufthansa (DLH) continues and (RYR) believes LaudaMotion (NKI) is currently under threat by (DLH), which (RYR) said is attempting to remove the 9 aircraft (DLH) was obliged by the (EC) to provide to LaudaMotion to allow the new Austrian carrier to restart services.

(RYR) Chief Legal & Regulatory Officer Juliusz Komorek said: “We urge the (EU) competition authorities to take action and prevent any further attempts by (DLH) to damage competition through its anti-consumer behavior,” Komorek said.

(RYR) complained that (DLH) failed to deliver 2 of the 11 Airbus A320 family aircraft they were required to under the (EU) competition decision concerning (DLH)’s acquisition of (BER).

Some of the aircraft (DLH) had committed to deliver are being delayed until after the summer 2018 season, further reducing LaudaMotion (NKI)’s ability to take up slots and offer 2018 flights and services.

(NKI) operates a 19-aircraft fleet this summer by wet leasing 10 Boeing 737-800s from (RYR).
SEE PHOTO: "RYR-2018-07 10 737-800 (RYR) WET-LEASED TO (NKI).jpg.

(RYR) also said (DLH) delayed a payment of >€1.5 million/$1.75 million of wet-lease payments properly due to (NKI) for flights that LaudaMotion (NKI) operated for Lufthansa (DLH) (especially for its (LCC) Eurowings (EWG)) in March, April and May.

(DLH) said in a July 13 statement the claims are without foundation and it has fully complied with all requirements of the (EU) regarding the demanded transfer of aircraft to LaudaMotion (NKI). This affects both the number of aircraft and the contractually agreed upon lease terms.

Niki Lauda told (ATW) July 13 that he expects the lease of these 9 aircraft to continue as planned for a total period of 3 years.

A (DLH) spokesperson in Frankfurt told (ATW) a German court is doing judicial review and initial results will be announced July 20 on whether the termination of the lease contracts is correct or not. “(DLH) assumes that this is correct. It is clear that an immediate termination of the lease contracts would then come into effect and the aircraft will return to (DLH),” the spokesperson said.

News Item A-2: "LaudaMotion, Lufthansa Leasing Contract Dispute Goes to British Court" by Kurt Hofmann (, July 20, 2018.

A London court said July 20 it will schedule proceedings November 19 to hear a case between LaudaMotion (NKI) and Lufthansa (DLH) over aircraft leasing contracts.

(DLH) wants to end a contract to lease aircraft to (NKI), saying (NKI) has failed to make payments.

On July 20, the court terminated (DLH)’s contract with (NKI) for 11 aircraft, even though (NKI) will continue to operate 9 wet-leased Airbus A320 family aircraft from (DLH) during the summer season.

Ryanair (RYR), which has backed LaudaMotion (NKI) said July 13 it believed (NKI) was under threat by (DLH) and was attempting to remove the 9 aircraft (DLH) was obliged by the European Commission (EC) to provide to (NKI) to allow (NKI) to restart services.

According to (RYR), some of the aircraft (DLH) had committed to deliver were being delayed until after the summer 2018 season, further reducing (NKI)’s ability to take up slots and offer 2018 flights and services.

A (DLH) spokesperson said July 20: “We welcome the fact that the court in London wants to quickly bring a clarification during main proceedings that will begin November 19, 2018. (DLH) is still firmly convinced the lease termination with (NKI) was lawful.” If the court agrees, an immediate termination of the lease contracts would be then come into effect and the aircraft would return to (DLH).

(RYR) said (NKI) has repeatedly honored both its aircraft lease payments and maintenance reserves to (DLH), which (DLH) disputes.

LaudaMotion (NKI) operates a 19-airplane fleet this summer by wet leasing 10 Boeing 737-800s from Ryanair (RYR).

(NKI) owner Niki Lauda said July 13 he expected the lease of these 9 aircraft to continue as planned for a total period of 3 years.

October 2018: News Item A-1: "Laudamotion Returns Jets To Lufthansa"

Lufthansa (DLH) and Ryanair (RYR)-backed carrier Laudamotion (NKI) have settled a dispute over leasing contracts, avoiding a court hearing that was scheduled for November, both airlines announced.
German national carrier (DLH) said in July it wanted to end an agreement to lease planes to (NKI), claiming the Austrian leisure airline had failed to meet payments. A London court was scheduled to start proceedings for the case next month, as (NKI) rejected the allegations.

To resolve the row, (NKI), the Austrian subsidiary of (RYR), will return the 9 aircraft which it had leased from (DLH) during the 1st half of 2019, (NKI) and (DLH) said in a joint statement. “On that basis, both sides have settled the litigation between them,” the airlines said. “The matter will not, therefore, be heard by the High Court in London in November 2018.”

The dispute highlights the battle for market share in Germany and Austria after the collapse of Air Berlin (BER) with the European aviation market becoming highly competitive as low-cost carriers (LCC)s increasingly attract passengers from flagship airlines.
Laudamotion (NKI) will not suffer any shortage of planes despite returning the aircraft, as it will double its Airbus fleet instead. (NKI) has ordered 18 Airbus A320 aircraft which will be delivered in summer 2019.

(NKI) also flies 10 Boeing 737 jets from (RYR) in addition to its Airbus (EDS) jets. It plans to reduce the Boeing (TBC) fleet to 6 by summer next year, in line with (RYR) (CEO) Michael O’Leary’s target of operating a streamlined fleet.

News Item A-2: "Ryanair Appoints 3rd New Managing Director for LaudaMotion" by Kurt Hofmann (, October 15, 2018.

Ryanair (RYR) has confirmed (RYR) has appointed a 3rd Managing Director for Austria-based LaudaMotion (NKI). Former (RYR) Commercial Manager Colin Casey joins Managing Director Andreas Gruber & Founder Niki Lauda to lead the new Austrian carrier.

(RYR) owns 75% of (NKI); (NKI) holds the remaining 25%.

Niki Lauda (ex-Formula 1 champion and founder of former Austria-based airberlin (BER) subsidiary (NIKI)) retook ownership of NIKI (NKI) after airberlin (BER) filed for bankruptcy in August 2017. (NKI) filed for insolvency December 13, 2017 and abruptly ceased operations. Niki Lauda rebranded the bankrupt (NIKI) as “LaudaMotion.” Niki Lauda, who is recovering from a lung transplant, will hold his remaining 25% in LaudaMotion (NKI).

However, (RYR) (CEO) Michael O’Leary said recently it must invest more money because LaudaMotion (NKI) will lose approximately -€150 million/-$175 million in its 1st “very difficult” year, up from a previous estimate of €100 million, but it should break even in 2019 and turn a profit in 2020.

LaudaMotion (NKI) expects to carry 3 million passengers this year; the new airline has already achieved load factors of >90% and plans to double its Airbus fleet to 18 aircraft next year. “These 9 additional aircraft ensure that LaudaMotion (NKI) will grow again by at least 20% in 2019 to 5 million guests per annum,” Gruber said recently.

News Item A-3: "LaudaMotion to Close 2 Austrian Bases in Cost-cutting Measures" by (ATW) Kurt Hofmann (, October 23, 2018.

Austria-based Ryanair (RYR) subsidiary LaudaMotion (NKI) will close 2 crew bases in Austria as part of a cost-cutting program, an (NKI) spokesperson confirmed. “We will close crew-bases in Graz and Salzburg in the coming months, affecting a total of 28 crew members [because of] costs and economic reasons; there are no plans to base aircraft at these airports. The colleagues will be offered jobs in Vienna, Dusseldorf and Stuttgart,” the spokesperson said.

(NKI) (CEO) Andreas Gruber said (NKI) will continue to grow significantly; however, it is expected to post a -€150 million/-$172.4 million loss because of startup costs in the 1st year. Also, high fuel prices are creating additional pressure.

(NKI) expects to carry 3 million passengers this year; (NKI) has achieved load factors of >90% LF and plans to double its Airbus fleet to 18 airplanes next year.

“(NKI) will grow again by at least +20% in 2019 to 5 million guests per annum,” Gruber said recently.

News Item A-4: LaudaMotion (NKI) began 2x-weekly Larnaca to Vienna service.

November 2018: News Item A-1: "Laudamotion Welcomes 1st Aircraft in New Livery" - see photo of A320 (OE-LOB) "Wien." This A320 was delivered to Turkish Airlines (THY) in 2006 and named "Harankeyf." Laudamotion intends to build its fleet up to 50 aircraft by the middle of 2019 all based in Vienna.

News Item A-2: (SMBC) Aviation Capital will lease 2 Airbus A320 aircraft to Austria’s LaudaMotion (NKI).


Click below for photos:
NKI-A320 - 2017-03.jpg
NKI-A320 Laudamotion 2018-03.jpg
NKI-A320-200 - 2015-08.jpg
NKI-A320-214 OE-LOG Lisbon 2018-05.jpg

December 2018:

1 737-46J (27171, OM-GTD), EX-(G-CIOE), ALL WHITE WITH NIKI TITLES & LOGO 2017-06.

10 737-800, (RYR) WET-LEASED TO (NKI) FOR SUMMER 2018.

2 A319-132 (CFM56-5B6/P) (3019, /07 OE-LEK "TANGO;" 3407, /08 OE-LED "BLUES"), 150Y.

2 A320-200 (V2527-A5) (SMBC) CAPITAL LEASED 2018-11. 174Y.

0 A320-212 (V2527-A5) (990, /99 EI-DIU), EX-(VLR), (SIL) LEASED 2005-01. RETURNED, LEASED TO (LAN) 2005-10. 174Y.

8 A320-214 (CFM56-5B4/P) (2529, /05 OE-LEA, "ROCK N' ROLL;" OE-LEH; 2668, /06 OE-LEO, "SOUL;" 2749, /06 OE-LEE "REGGAE;" 2867, /06 OE-LEX "JAZZ;" 2902, /06 OE-LEU "HIP HOP;" 4231, OH-LEB, 2010-03; 4316, OH-LEC, 2010-05; 5003, OE-LEI, 2012-02; 5115, OE-LEM), 5003; SOLD TO CHENGDU AIRLINES (UEG) 2012-02. 2664; & 5115; RETURNED FROM (OLT) EXPRESS 2012-07. 2867 TRANSFERRED TO AIR BERLIN (BER) 2017-04. 180Y.

6 A320-214 (CFM56-5B4/P) (2685, D-ABDD, 2010-03; 3242, D-ABDR, 2010-04; 4368, OE-LEF, 2010-07; 4581, OE-LEG, 2011-01; OE-LEL; 5648, OE-LEY, 2013-06), (BER) WET-LEASED. EX-(F-WWBP), (F-WWIB) & (D-AXAY). 180Y.

1 A320-214 (CFM56-5B4/P) (3093, OE-LEN), EX-(D-ABDP), AIRCASTLE (CSL) LEASED 2015-05. 180Y.

1 A320-214 (CFM56-5B4/P) (5246, OE-LEV), EX-(D-ABNB), (GEF) LEASED 2015-05. 180Y.

3 A320-232 (V2527-A5) (659, /97 OE-LOE "CARINA SAILER;" 667, /97 OE-LOF "KIMI EBERI;" 1459, /01 OE-LOR "NADJA SCHWEIGHOFER"), 180Y.

1 A320-232 (V2527-A5) (/97 OE-LOG IN LAUDAMOTION (NKI) LIVERY - SEE PHOTO), 180Y.

0 A320-232 (V2527-A5) (990, /99 EI-DIU), (SIL) LEASED 2005-01. RETURNED. 180Y.

4 A321-211 (1988, OE-LCG, 2017-01; 5133, OE-LCK, 2017-02; 3504, OE-LES, 2008-05; 3830, OE-LET, 2009-03,), 212Y.

1 A321-211 (1994, OE-LCS), EX-(D-ALSB), (GECAS) (GEF) LEASED 2017-03. 212Y.

1 A321-231 (V2533-A5) (1421, /01 OE-LOS; 1438, 2004-05), 1421 LEASED TO (ONU) 2004-04. 1421 RETURNED 2004-10. 210Y.

1 A321-231 (V2523-A5) (1487, /01 OE-LOS "KURT HOFMEISTER"), 210Y.


0 EMBRAER E190 (0285, OE-IHA, 2009-06; 0294, OE-IHB, 2009-06 - - SEE PHOTO - - "NKI-EMB-190-2009-06;" 0349, OE-IHC, 2010-05; 0354, OE-IHD, 2010-05). TO BE PHASED OUT AND REPLACED. ALL 7 SOLD TO HELVETIC AIRWAYS (OAW) 2014-12. 112Y.


Click below for photos:
NKI-1-Captain Oliver Lackmann - 2016-04.jpg
NKI-1-Niki Lauda - 2017-09.jpg

Full Name: Andreas Nikolaus Lauda.
Date of Birth: February 22, 1949.
Place of Birth: Vienna, Austria.
Company Worked For: NIKI Luftfahrt.
First Airline Job: Owner of Lauda Air (LAL).
Favorite Airplane: A320 Family - - as I fly them myself.
Favorite Sports/Hobbies: Skiing.
Favorite Car: Mercedes C-Type Station Wagon.
Favorite Holiday Destination: Palma de Mallorca, Spain.


Oliver confirmed he would step down by the end of February 2018 as the deal with the International Airlines Group (IAG) hit a snag.

Captain Oliver had held the overall airBerlin (BER) executive responsibility for running all FlyNiki (NKI) Operational activities, including Flight Operations, Crew Planning & Training, as well as Operations Compliance & Safety, Aviation Security, and Network Operations.




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