Lufthansa Group LCC subsidiary Eurowings Europe will continue to grow even if airberlin and Austrian LCC NIKI become part of the Lufthansa Group, an airline executive told ATW.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Austrian Aviation Association symposium in Vienna, Eurowings Europe managing director Dieter Watzak-Helmer said the carrier plans to grow its fleet from eight to 13 aircraft in 2018.

Airberlin filed for insolvency in August and is in the process of seeking buyers for its assets after Etihad Airways, which owns a 29.2% stake in the German carrier, withdrew further financial support. Several companies have since expressed interest in airberlin and Niki assets, including Lufthansa Group.

“This growth will happen independently whether or not airberlin or NIKI become part of the Lufthansa Group. However, we are not planning additional bases in Europe at the moment, because we need clarity on how the scenario with airberlin will play out.”

Eurowings Europe has four Airbus A320s and one A319 based in Vienna, two A320s in Palma de Mallorca (Spain) and one A319 in Salzburg (Austria).

“Next year, two more A319s will be based in Vienna, two more A319s in Palma, and maybe a fifth aircraft either in Vienna or Palma,” he told ATW.

Vienna-based Eurowings Europe launched its first flight from Vienna to Alicante June 23, 2016. The carrier operates under an Austrian air operator’s certificate.

Kurt Hofmann