Niki Lauda sells carrier to Air Berlin

by Jessica MCILHINNEY on November 9, 2011

Former Formula One World champion Niki Lauda has announced that he is selling the remaining shares he has in his own low-cost airline to Air Berlin.

Lauda, who held a joint press conference in the capital of his native Austria, Vienna, confirmed that Air Berlin will take over 100 per cent control of Niki. Hartmut Mehdorn, the chief of Air Berlin, which is Germany’s second largest carrier, was also present.

Until recently, Lauda owned 50.1 per cent of his popular airline. Mehdorn pointed out that Niki has been working with Air Berlin for years and that new perspectives have been opened with regards to the German airline boosting its hub in Vienna.

Fortunately, the move is going to have little effect on Niki passengers as the airline will continue to be operative under its name. The low-cost airline is also going to legally remain autonomous with its own management. F1 ace Lauda will assume a position on Air Berlin’s board as the non-executive director of Niki in December and said that he will continue to watch Niki closely as he is more or less solely responsible for its development.

At present, the Austrian airline employs 800 people and there are reported sales of around 337.4 million euros this year while a total of 3.4 million passengers have been carried. In contrast, Air Berlin has been struggling in the red for three years and has been forced into embarking on a cost-reducing programme while cutting its fleet.

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