Recently bankrupted Niki has been bought by the IAG Group for €20m. IAG plans to run NIKI as a subsidiary of its Spanish LCC Vueling. Reports are that 740 NIKI staff will be moved to the new company. In addition, approximately 15 A321s plus valuable airport slots in Vienna, Munich, Dusseldorf, Zurich, and Palma. IAG will provide additional capital of up to €16.5m. The deal is subject to final approval by the EU.
Willie Walsh, IAG’s chief executive, said in a statement: “NIKI was the most financially viable part of Air Berlin and its focus on leisure travel means it’s a great fit with Vueling. This deal will enable Vueling to increase its presence in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland and provide the region’s consumers with more choice of low-cost air travel.” IAG was the only bidder late last week after the others dropped out. Included among the dropouts was original NIKI founder Niki Lauda. Two other travel firms were also in the running: Thomas Cook and Tui. Once Lufthansa withdrew from an acquisition of NIKI’s assets as part of its Air Berlin deal because of pressure from the EU’s competition authorities these other firms steeped in.
The deal is actually rather small and should not see any hurdles at the EU. The fleets for these two brands as of 3Q17 are shown in the table.
Vueling does pick up a decent number of A321s with this deal and doubles its fleet. NIKI also has eight 737-800s and five 737-700s in service with TUI. The A321s in NIKI configuration had 212 seats compared to 220 at Vueling. It is not clear what happens with the 737s. Under the Vueling brand, it is likely the fleet stays Airbus-focused.