The Etihad Aviation Group Board has approved plans to create a new European leisure airline group in a joint venture with TUI AG. The new operation with a fleet of around 60 aircraft, would offer a capacity of 15 million seats per year, focused on point-to-point flying to connect key European tourist markets.
The planned transaction includes an agreement for EAG’s subsidiary Etihad Investment Holding Company LLC (Etihad) to acquire the 49.8% shares indirectly held by airberlin in its subsidiary airline NIKI Luftfahrt GmbH.
At closing of the transaction, Etihad will immediately contribute its share in NIKI to the new European leisure airline group and will not effectively control, or become a majority owner of NIKI. TUI will contribute its subsidiary TUIfly GmbH to the joint venture, including the 14 aircraft currently operated by TUIfly for airberlin under a wet-lease agreement.
TUI AG will hold 24.8% of shares in the joint venture company, with Etihad holding a 25% stake. The remaining 50.2% will continue to be held by the existing private foundation NIKI Privatstiftung.
Headquartered in Vienna, the new leisure airline group is scheduled to begin operations in April 2017, serving a network of destinations from Germany, Austria and Switzerland (Hanover, Berlin, Düsseldorf, Cologne, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Munich, Nuremberg, Baden-Baden, Hamburg, Basel and Vienna). Key markets will include the Balearics, Canaries, mainland Spain and Greece.
The transaction is subject to approvals by aviation regulatory bodies and anti-trust authorities.