A pressure group of airline passengers has taken legal action to shift insolvency proceedings for budget airline Niki to Austria from Germany, in a move that could endanger the sale of the Air Berlin unit to Britain’s IAG.
The action group Fairplane, seeking to recover more than €1m it says Niki owes to passengers, has filed separate legal cases to block insolvency proceedings in Berlin and to open them instead in Austria.
Although the sum sought is relatively small, a spokesman for Air Berlin liquidator Lucas Floether told Reuters that the complaint could derail the sale of Niki to IAG’s low-cost Vueling operation that was agreed last week.
If the complaint before the Charlottenburg Court (in Berlin) succeeds, the sale of Niki to IAG would be greatly endangered,” the spokesman said.
IAG, which also owns British Airways, said last week it would buy Niki for €20m and provide up to €16.5m euros in additional liquidity to the company.
The sale to IAG appeared to mark the final chapter in the demise of Air Berlin, the once major German air carrier and owner of Niki.
Fairplane argues that Niki, which is registered in as a company in Austria, had been profitable but had lost access to bridge financing when insolvency proceedings were opened in Germany in December, grounding planes and stranding passengers.
Spokesman for the group Ronald Schmid told Reuters that dragging Niki into the German insolvency process was wrong, and that passengers stood a better chance of getting their money back via the Austrian courts.