Merger Gets Go-Ahead

The Etihad Aviation Group (EAG) has approved plans to launch a new European leisure carrier under a joint venture with TUI.  The deal, which remains subject to regulatory approval, will see elements of several airlines merge together under a new brand, operating a combined fleet of 60 aircraft and flying point-to-point services to key leisure markets across the Continent.

The Vienna-based airline, expected to launch services in April, will come about through the wholesale reorganisation of Etihad’s strategic partner airberlin.  The German carrier is set to surrender its 49.2% stake in Austrian subsidiary Niki to the joint-venture.  This will be complemented by 14 Boeing 737s, owned by TUI offshoot TUIfly, but currently operating under a long-term wet-lease to airberlin.

Ownership of the joint venture will be split between TUI (24.8%) and Etihad (25%) while the remaining 50.2% will be retained by the existing private foundation NIKI Privatstiftung.

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