BA owner likely to buy bankrupt Austrian airline Niki

British Airways owner IAG has emerged as the preferred bidder to take over bankrupt Austrian airline Niki, German news agency DPA reported on Thursday.

BA owner likely to buy bankrupt Austrian airline Niki
A grounded aircraft of bankrupt Niki. Photo: Alex Halada/AFP

“In the search for a solution for the insolvent Air Berlin subsidiary, Niki, everything is pointing to a sale to British Airways parent IAG,” DPA wrote, without revealing its sources.

Niki's insolvency administrator Lucas Floether earlier announced that creditors had agreed to begin final talks with a chosen bidder. He did not identify the bidder, but IAG — which also owns Spanish carrier Iberia — was widely reported to be one of four parties in the running to snap up all or parts of the holiday carrier.

Floether has previously said he wanted a deal to be clinched before the end of the month given Niki's urgent need for fresh funding. IAG declined to comment when contacted by AFP.

Niki, the Austrian unit of failed Air Berlin, was forced to stop flying on  December 14th after Lufthansa dropped plans to buy it because of EU competition concerns.

One of the four bidders for Niki, Austrian former Formula One champion Niki Lauda, told reporters his bid to re-acquire the airline he founded in 2003 had failed.

“I'm no longer in the race,” he told Austrian media, predicting that the airline would be dismantled.

“A sale abroad, as now seems likely, means a break-up (of the airline). This is a tragedy,” he said.

Germany's Tuifly and Thomas Cook's German subsidiary Condor were understood to be the other two parties interested in scooping up Niki, which employs some 1,000 people.

Niki, whose fleet of around 20 planes served resorts in southern Europe and north Africa, opened insolvency proceedings on December 13th after German giant Lufthansa unexpectedly withdrew its purchase offer.

Niki ceased flying the next day, stranding thousands of passengers. Lufthansa dropped its interest in acquiring Niki along with large parts of parent company Air Berlin after EU regulators expressed their concerns.

Last Thursday, the European Commission approved Lufthansa's more modest bid to acquire the operations of Air Berlin's LGW unit, comprising some 30 leased aircraft and 800 employees.

While 2017 has been a bruising year for some European airlines — after the collapse of Air Berlin and Monarch Airlines in the UK, and as Alitalia in Italy went into administration — IAG has bucked the trend.

The Anglo-Spanish group, owner also of Aer Lingus and budget airline Vueling, has said it expects underlying operating profit to hit 3.0 billion euros ($3.5 billion) in 2017, a 20-percent jump on the year before, thanks to rising demand and falling costs.


EU takes action against Austria on working rights

Austria comes up short in areas such as 'transparent and predictable working conditions' and 'promotion of equality in the labour market', the EU Commission has said.

EU takes action against Austria on working rights

The EU Commission has reprimanded Austria on several labour market issues, according to a press statement by the Brussels-based authority.

Austria is lagging in properly implementing EU regulations in “transparent and predictable working conditions” and “promotion of equality in the labour market”.

After the European Union sends out directives to member states, it also sets a deadline for the countries to bring the EU-agreed rules to the national level.

READ ALSO: 10 ways EU countries aim to cut energy bills and avoid blackouts this winter

The first directive for “transparent and predictable working conditions” provides more extensive and updated labour rights and protection to the 182 million workers in the European Union.

The EU Commission stated: “With the new rules, workers have, for instance, the right to more predictability regarding assignments and working time. They will also have the right to receive timely and more complete information about the essential aspects of their job, such as place of work and remuneration”.

Austria and 18 other member states have failed to communicate the complete transposition of the directive into national law by the deadline of August 1st.

READ ALSO: 10 ways EU countries aim to cut energy bills and avoid blackouts this winter

Promotion of equality in the labour market

Additionally, Austria has failed to notify national measures transposing the “Work-Life Balance Directive” by the EU and has been notified along with 18 other countries.

The directive “aims to ensure equality in labour market participation by encouraging equal sharing of care responsibilities between parents”.

“It introduced paternity leave, ensuring that fathers/second parents have the right to take at least ten working days of paternity leave around the time of birth of the child. The Directive also establishes a minimum of four months of parental leave, with at least two of the four months non-transferable from one parent to another.

READ ALSO: Non-EU family members of EU citizens can obtain long-term residence, court rules

“It establishes five working days per year of carers’ leave for each worker providing personal care or support to a relative or person living in the same household and gives all working parents of children up to at least eight years old and all carers a right to request flexible working arrangements.”

The Austrian federal government now has two months to respond to the EU Commission’s letter of formal notice, otherwise, it faces another warning – and could eventually see its case going to the European Court of Justice.