Niki Lauda wins back his airline

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In a surprise turn around, Niki Lauda, former three-times Formula World Champion and two-times an airline owner, has won back the second airline he founded. The airline was founded in 2003 and sold to AirBerlin in 2011 when like many, it hit deep financial problems during the global recession.

“In the early hours of this morning Laudamotion GmbH emerged from a transparent bidding process as the best bidder,” Niki’s Austrian and German administrators, Ulla Reisch and Lucas Floether, said in a brief joint statement, referring to a company controlled by Lauda. They said they expected legal approval for the transaction to follow soon.

15 aircraft have been secured and the airline should begin operating again at the end of March.

All Niki employees –  around 1,000 in December – can expect to keep their jobs after Lauda improved an earlier offer and showed “commitment to Niki’s base in Austria and openness to negotiating a collective agreement”, Niki works council chief Stefan Tankovits told radio station ORF.

Lauda said he hoped to work with Thomas Cook for ticketing functions and bookings; there’s ben no response from them.

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