Thursday, December 14, 2017

Talks with possible buyers for airline Niki to start on Thursday

MUNICH/VIENNA (Reuters) - Niki airline administrator will start talks on Thursday to find a buyer for the insolvent Austrian carrier, formerly a unit of collapsed Air Berlin, after a deal with Lufthansa fell through. 

A spokesman for the administrator said the carrier would in a few days lose its valuable runway slots, one of the most attractive assets for possible buyers, which means the clock is ticking on sales negotiations. 

Lufthansa had signed a 210 million euro ($248 million) deal in October to take over large parts of Air Berlin’s assets, including Niki. 

But the German flagship carrier abandoned plans to buy Niki on Wednesday due to competition concerns, grounding the Austrian unit’s fleet and stranding thousands of passengers in what its Managing Director Oliver Lackmann said was a “national disaster for Austria”.

Three to four parties are now interested in taking over Niki, Wolfgang Katzian of Austrian union GPA told broadcaster ORF earlier on Thursday, fanning hopes for about 1,000 workers whose jobs hang in the balance.

Before Air Berlin was carved up in October, former motor racing driver and Niki’s founder Niki Lauda offered around 100 million euros jointly with Thomas Cook’s airline Condor for Niki plus 17 aircraft.

He told ORF radio on Thursday that he was still interested but would try to take over Niki without a partner this time. 

British Airways parent IAG has dropped out of the bidding.

Austria’s Transport Ministry estimated that about 5,000 Niki passengers could be stranded in the next two weeks. Many of them will be able to fly home on other airlines, but the ministry has started talks to charter some capacity.

German industry body BDL said German airlines would also help return Niki passengers home by offering them available seats on their flights at “rescue fares”. 

Original article can be found here ➤

Flight gathering planned for airline: Western Nebraska Regional Airport (KBFF), Scottsbluff, Scotts Bluff County, Nebraska

SCOTTSBLUFF — Airport officials are planning a welcoming party to celebrate the first flight out of Western Nebraska Regional Airport.

SkyWest, flying as United, will see its first flight out of Scottsbluff on Jan. 30, 2018, at 4 p.m. Though the airline typically doesn’t make a big deal out of its new routes, United officials were happy to join in on the fun.

The launch party will take place at 2 p.m., with refreshments and comments from local officials and airline representatives.

The first flight gathering is an opportunity that shouldn’t be missed, said Louis Kleager, board secretary.

Until the event, there is still a lot of work to be done.

The airline counter and baggage makeup areas are empty. Paul Reed Construction will be at the airport later this week to take part of the counter out in the front and get the back area changes started. Robinson Electric will arrive on Monday to start installing cable and whatever United needs to get its computer systems running smoothly.

Kiosks will be placed in the lobby, but Airport Director Darwin Skelton said they won’t be ready in time for the first flight.

“When you go out to the boarding area, you will still scan your phone or boarding ticket,” Skelton said.

A Premier 750, deicing truck is set to be picked up on Friday and at the airport on Monday, Dec. 18. The truck was refurbished in August 2016.

“It’s in good shape and should be a little better unit than what we have now,” Skelton said.

The current deicer truck has been in use for at least seven years, but it has struggled to start lately and parts from another truck have been used in the past to keep it running. The truck will not have a warranty, mainly because the only way to get one was to buy a new one at a cost of $150,000. Even then, it only had a one-year warranty. But there was also another reason for replacing the current deicer.

“SkyWest looked at what we had and weren’t too impressed,” Overman said. “That precipitated us moving to the newer one.”

Skelton said he understood why the old deicer made the airline nervous and said the new one should work much better.

TSA employees are continuing to travel to Alliance each day to keep current on their training and work abilities. They will be at the airport on Jan. 9, 2018, for a chartered flight and eventually return full-time when flights lift off on Jan. 30, 2018.

Board Chair Don Overman said he is aware of several reservations that have already been made. Some bankers he knows will be traveling to Dallas. They found fares for about $300 round trip. Another person he knows is contemplating a ticket to Scottsbluff from Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The current price is around $400.

“I think when people understand we have a jet and it’s going to be on time, they’re going to board a lot of people and boardings here are going to skyrocket,” Overman said.

Skelton said he has seen some fares as low as $127 round trip, but most fares are about $156 round trip.

“$75 each way really isn’t a bad fare,” Skelton said.

United employees also started training in Scottsbluff on Monday. They will train through Dec. 21 and then return to finish training, which will run from Jan. 3-26, 2018.

“They have quite the training program going on locally,” Skelton said. “They are progressing nicely.”

Original article can be found here ➤