F1 legend Niki Lauda buys back his own airline

F1 legend Niki Lauda buys back his own airline

Niki Lauda told Aviation Daily's sister publication ATW the carrier will be renamed Laudamotion, after the general aviation company.

"Niki was the most financially viable part of Air Berlin", according to IAG CEO Willie Walsh (as reported). The administrators, who did not disclose a purchase price, said they expect legal approval to follow soon.

Niki Lauda-ex-Formula 1 champion and founder of Austria-based airberlin subsidiary NIKI-will retake ownership of NIKI, rebranding the bankrupt carrier as "Laudamotion".

Lauda was always a maverick, from taking part and winning his first race in 1968 without his parents' knowledge to multiple twists, turns and comebacks in securing his three Formula One world championships.

He said he secured 15 aircraft and planned to bring Niki back into operation by end of March.

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"Of course, I am delighted", Lauda said in an interview with Austrian broadcaster Oe24.

Lauda said earlier that he would look to work with an operating partner such as Thomas Cook for functions previously provided by Air Berlin, such as ticket sales, crew planning and marketing.

The budget airline fell victim previous year to the financial woes of its parent company Air Berlin, other assets of which have since been bought by Lufthansa and EasyJet.

In December, IAG, owner of British Airways, was given the green light by German administrators to buy Niki and merge it with its budget unit Vueling for 20 million euros ($24.5 million) and 16.5 million euros in fresh liquidity. It accepted its defeat on Tuesday. The racer-turned-entrepreneur had teamed up with Thomas Cook Group Plc's German airline Condor for an earlier bid, and the tour operator said Tuesday it will enter discussions about providing support services for Niki with a view to buying seats from the revived carrier.

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