VIENNA (Reuters) – Air Berlin’s <AB1.DE> Austrian unit Niki can keep its valuable runway slots for as long as Austria’s Transport Ministry is examining its insolvency filing, a spokesman for airspace regulator Austro Control said on Tuesday.
Niki’s workers’ council chief said on Dec. 15 the sale of insolvent Austrian airline Niki had to be agreed within seven days as its runway slots, or take-off and landing rights, would be lost after that point.
The Austro Control spokesman said, however, that no such deadline existed and the slots, among Niki’s most attractive assets, would remain untouched for as long as the ministry was looking into the airline’s insolvency filing.
“I cannot say anything about the length of the investigation for which there are no designated deadlines. The investigation at the Transport Ministry has been ongoing since (Niki) filed for insolvency.”
The Transport Ministry had no comment as new minister Norbert Hofer, who was sworn in on Monday, had not yet moved into his office as of Tuesday morning, meaning no spokesperson was available to comment on the investigation.
Niki’s administrator said bidders, which include its founder and former Formula One champion Niki Lauda, as well as tour operator Thomas Cook <TCG.L> and Irish budget carrier Ryanair <RYA.I>, have until Thursday to submit offers.
(Reporting by Shadia Nasralla, Maria Sheahan; Editing by Mark Potter)