As a consequence of The EU Commission looking to block Lufthansa’s bid for insolvent Air Berlin’s subsidiary airline, Niki, the German government looks set to lose the €150 million bridging loan it provided to Air Berlin in order to allow it to continue to operate until a buyer was found for the insolvent carrier.
With Lufthansa’s bid of €200 million no longer on the table, this has paved the way for British Airways owner, IAG, to make an offer of €20 million, plus up to €16.5 million in liquidity, thus completing the sale of all Air Berlin assets, but at a figure appreciably lower than the offer made by Lufthansa.
“The damages will be borne by creditors and German taxpayers, who will see nothing of the Air Berlin bridging loan in the amount of 150 million euros,” said Hans Michelbach, deputy leader of the Bavarian CSU party in parliament and financial spokesman for the conservative bloc.
IAG plans to make Niki part of its low-cost carrier Vueling, employing 740 of Niki’s 1,000 former employees. Assets include 15 A320 aircraft and slots at airports including Vienna, Dusseldorf, Munich, Palma and Zurich. However, Michelbach has also asked for a detailed examination of whether Niki’s landing rights in Germany can legally be sold to IAG.
The Bavarian lawmaker also called for a detailed investigation of the Air Berlin and Niki insolvencies, along with the actions of the European Commissioner Margrethe Vestager. It is alleged that the EU held secret negotiations, provoking Lufthansa into withdrawing its offer for Niki to “make possible the takeover by a certain investor at a bargain price.”
(€1.00 = US$1.21 at time of publication.)
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