Air Berlin increases stake in Niki, launches new routes
Air Berlin has confirmed plans to expand its stake in Austrian partner FlyNiki.
The German carrier announced plans to take its stake in the airline - founded by Formula 1 legend Niki Lauder – to 49.9 per cent, with the acquisition of a further 25.9 per cent of the airline.
The deal was valued at €21 million ($29 million) on the German SDax stock exchange.
“We want to keep the Niki brand for the foreseeable future,” explained chief executive of Air Berlin, Joachim Hunold. However, as part of the deal, flight scheduling, maintenance and marketing will now be centrally managed.
Air Berlin chief financial officer Ulf Huettmeyer also confirmed Niki’s business would be incorporated into Air Berlin’s accounts.
Mr Lauda, who founded the company, is to have access to the Austrian airline for a further three years, before it is fully incorporated into Air Berlin - while remaining a legally independent company.
The deal comes as Niki seeks to capitalise on a potential strike at rival Lufthansa next week.
With pilots at the German giant planning industrial action from Monday, Niki has announced it will offer more connections to German airports.
Lauda claimed FlyNiki was a market leader regarding connections between Austria and neighbouring Germany - with more than 100 flights per week.
Finally, Air Berlin is to launch winter flights to Krakow and Gdansk later this year; with a summer service from Berlin set to launch in the summer.
From May 1st 2010 the airline will offer four flights a week – on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday – from Berlin-Tegel to the Polish seaport.
Air Berlin also offers three flights a week from Berlin to Krakow; continuing its direct daily flight from Düsseldorf to Krakow throughout the summer and winter schedules.