VIENNA (Reuters) – Around 790 staff working for insolvent airline Niki <AB1.DE> in Austria will be paid monthly wages for December, administrator Lucas Floether said on Wednesday, adding he was confident of striking a deal with a new investor in the next few days.
The new owner would be expected to take on Niki’s running costs, including salaries, from the beginning of January.
Among the four bidders selected for the final stages of talks to buy all or parts of Niki is IAG <ICAG.L>, the owner of British Airways and low-cost carrier Vueling, three people familiar with the situation have said.
British tour operator Thomas Cook <TCG.L> and Niki’s founder, former Formula One world champion Niki Lauda, are also among the bidders. A German newspaper had also named Tuifly, the airline of tour operator TUI <TUIT.L>, as a bidder.
A spokesman for Floether said the talks were “going at full speed”, but declined to reveal further details.
Lauda, who set up the airline in 2003, said he had been told a decision was to be made on Dec. 28.
The Niki staff in Austria should probably Austria get their wages by the end of the month, Floether said. The airline also employs around 200 people in Germany.
“Our aim remains to preserve as many jobs as possible in Austria and Germany. This task is one of the central questions in the ongoing … process,” Floether said in a statement.
Niki was part of collapsed Air Berlin. It filed for insolvency after Germany’s Lufthansa <LHAG.DE> backed out of a deal to buy its assets on competition concerns, grounding the fleet and stranding thousands of passengers.
The administrators have been racing to find an alternative buyer for its assets before it loses its takeoff and landing slots, its most attractive asset.
(Reporting By Shadia Nasralla, Ilona Wissenbach; Editing by Keith Weir)