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Wed 23 Nov 2016 02:52 PM

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Air Berlin 'seeks cash injection from Etihad Austria stake'

Etihad said to be in talks to take stake in Air Niki and merge it with TUI AG

Air Berlin 'seeks cash injection from Etihad Austria stake'

Air Berlin is reportedly angling for funding from its investor Etihad Airways via the latter’s proposed stake in Air Berlin’s Austrian leisure subsidiary Niki.

Etihad plans to take a holding in low-cost carrier Air Niki, which is being sold off, and merge it with TUI AG’s German airline unit, according to Bloomberg.

Under the plans, Vienna-based Niki would contribute 19 aircraft to the new carrier, alongside about 30 from TUIfly and 14 that Air Berlin leases from Niki.

Air Berlin – which is 29 percent owned by Etihad – separately plans to operate an additional 40 planes on behalf of rival Lufthansa, Bloomberg reported.

It quoted sources as saying that while the Niki transaction is under way there is no certainty a deal will be reached.

Meanwhile, any inflated price for Niki would suggest Etihad is seeking to fund the beleaguered Air Berlin through the deal – so the story will be watched closely by market analysts.

Air Berlin was expected to announce a restructuring programme this autumn, it was reported in September, as the airline battles to return to profit after making operating losses in four of the last five years.

Bloomberg said all parties declined to comment on the plans. It said the TUI board was scheduled to meet on Wednesday, so the plans could be progressed this week.

Arabian Business has contacted Etihad for comment.

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