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Passenger rights group takes legal action to shift insolvency proceedings for Niki to Austria

A passenger rights group has taken legal action to move the insolvency proceedings for budget carrier Niki from Germany to Austria.

The potential shift could have dire consequences for the sale of Air Berlin to Britain’s IAG.

Fairplane, which is seeking to recover over 1 million euros explains that Niki owes to passengers, and filed different legal cases to halt insolvency proceedings in Berlin and instead, send them over to Austria.

While the sum is relatively small, a spokesperson for Air Berlin liquidator Lucas Floether remarked that the filing could disrupt the sale of Niki to IAG’s Vueling operation that was agreed on last week.

“If the complaint before the Charlottenburg Court (in Berlin) succeeds, the sale of Niki to IAG would be greatly endangered,” said the spokesman. A ruling by the court on the case is due any time this weekk.

IAG stated that it would purchase Niki for 20 million euros and sweetened the pot further by providing an additional liquidity of up to 16.5 million euros.

The sale was supposedly the final nail in the coffin of Air Berlin.

However, Fairplane claims that Niki – a company registered in Austria – had still been making profit but lost access to bridge financing when insolvency proceedings were started in Germany in December, thus resulting in grounded and stranded passengers.

Fairplane spokesman Ronald Schmid said that pulling Niki into the German insolvency process was wrong, and that passengers had a better shot of getting their money back in the Austrian courts.

“We want to ensure that the insolvency is carried out in Austria – where it belongs – so that there are no conflicts of interest,” Schmid said.

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