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Surprise! Niki wins bid to Fly Niki again


It appears that Niki, the Austria-based leisure airline founded by racing driver Niki Lauda will fly again—and that Niki Lauda will again be in the cockpit.

His group, Laudamotion, has emerged as the winning bidder for the former Air Berlin subsidiary whose future had become a ping-pong ball among different authorities and bidders.

Lauda, who founded the airline often advertised as Fly Niki in 2003 and sold it to Air Berlin in 2011, beat out British-Spanish bidder International Airways Group, parent of British Air, Iberia, Vueling and Aer Lingus. He's promised to keep the company and its staff intact (at least for now!) and to resume flights in March.

Niki's future had been clouded for months. It was originally part of Lufthansa's offer for most of Air Berlin's assets, but European competition authorities ruled that would give Lufthansa too much market share. LH then dropped the Niki bid, on Dec. 13, leaving the company without funds to continue. It abruptly stopped flying the next day.

New bidding, said to involve Ryanair as well as IAG and Lauda, appeared to favor IAG's proposal, which would have cut over 25% of staff. But then a court ruling took jurisdiction over the case from German courts to Austria, where the company's offices are, and the balance shifted to Lauda, the hometown offer. 

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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