European Union limits review of Lufthansa's Air Berlin asset purchase

  • European Union limits review of Lufthansa's Air Berlin asset purchase

European Union limits review of Lufthansa's Air Berlin asset purchase

Air Berlin on Tuesday said that there were no other bidders for Niki after talks with Thomas Cook failed to result in a new offer, leaving Niki's future uncertain if Lufthansa's bid is rejected on competition grounds.

But in a statement Lufthansa said that the EU Commission "has clearly indicated that an acquisition of Niki and its integration into the Eurowings Group would now not be approved", and that "Based on this assessment, a takeover of Niki by Eurowings is no longer being pursued". "Niki will discontinue to operate further flights for the time being".

"The flight operations of NIKI Luftfahrt GmbH under IATA-Airline-Code HG will cease as of December 14th".

Niki posted a notice on its website saying passengers should contact their tour operator if possible.

"Several Airlines are now looking into solutions for bringing back passengers on standby-basis for a small fee from overseas destinations back to Germany, Austria and Switzerland".

EasyJet, which now operates flights to and from Berlin's Schoenefeld airport, plans to start using the more central Tegel airport as well from next month following the Air Berlin deal. However, the Commission said in a statement that its investigation was ongoing and no decision had been taken.

Lufthansa, which wants to purchase Air Berlin units Niki and LGW, will have to give up more airport slots and routes to address competition concerns or face a full-scale European Union investigation, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters last week. This is especially hard for the employees.

"Due to the unexpected loss of proceeds from the Niki sale, KfW's loan to Air Berlin guaranteed by the federal government may only be partially repaid", it adds.