Austria-based airberlin subsidiary NIKI CEO Oliver Lackmann confirmed he will step down by the end of February as the deal with International Airlines Group (IAG) hits a snag.

“It is logical that with a new ownership (of NIKI) it will also lead to a new management,” Lackmann told ATW. Lackmann, a former Airbus A320/330 captain with airberlin, became CEO in April 2016.

Airberlin filed for bankruptcy August 2017 and ceased operations in October 2017.

NIKI—which filed for insolvency Dec. 13, 2017 and abruptly ceased operations—is still waiting for approval to be taken over by International Airlines Group (IAG) after sealing a deal at the end of December to acquire the Austrian carrier for €20 million ($24 million).

However, a Berlin regional court (Landgericht) ruled earlier this week that bankruptcy proceedings should be conducted in the Austrian regional court in Korneuburg  (near Vienna), rather than in Germany, which may put the IAG takeover deal in jeopardy.

Some reasons for that decision are that even though the majority of NIKI’s revenues were generated in Germany, the carrier conducted analysis, financial accounting and other administrative tasks at its main headquarters in Vienna.

Meanwhile, as expected, NIKI also filed for bankruptcy in Austria on Jan. 11, 2018, which could wind up being in parallel with the insolvency house pending in Germany.

The application for bankruptcy proceedings is Austria is said to have been filed by the German insolvency administrator Lucas Flöther. The application was for a so-called secondary procedure, which Korneuburg judges are verifying.

“We assume [we will be able to work] together with the courts in Austria and Germany [for a solution so] the deal with IAG can be completed,” a source close to the process told ATW.

Austrian aviation authorityAustrocontrol has also extended NIKI’s Austrian air operator’s certificate (AOC) by three months until March so the carrier will not lose its slots.

IAG has said it will continue to work with all parties to ensure the transaction goes through as planned. The group intends to eventually relaunch NIKI as an Austrian-based unit of its LCC subsidiary Vueling.

Kurt Hofmann