British Airways parent company International Airlines Group (IAG) is believed to be on the verge of taking over NIKI, after the administrator handling the Austrian carrier’s insolvency process said Thursday that only one of four bidders remained.

Administrator Lucas Floether did not mention IAG by name as the sole bidder, but Reuters and Austrian media quoted sources saying IAG became the exclusive bidder Dec. 28 after NIKI founder Niki Lauder, Thomas Cook and SilverArrow Capital all dropped their bids.

NIKI’s air operator certificate is valid until Jan. 3, 2018, meaning a solution has to be decided soon.

ATW understands that IAG could use NIKI to expand its LCC brand, Spanish-based Vueling, through Germany and Austria as well in parts of Eastern Europe.

NIKI filed for bankruptcy Dec. 13 after Lufthansa withdrew its offer to buy the airline after the European Commission’s made clear it had serious concerns anticompetitive concerns about the deal. NIKI was a subsidiary of airberlin, which ceased operations earlier this year,

NIKI has around 1,000 employees, whose salaries have been secured through December.

Kurt Hofmann, hofmann.aviation@netway.at