Laudamotion, the rebranded bankrupt airberlin subsidiary NIKI, plans to launch operations March 25, owner Niki Lauda confirmed to ATW.

Lauda—ex-Formula 1 champion and founder of Austria-based NIKI—retook ownership of the bankrupt carrier in January and rebranded it as Laudamotion. He said the company is working intensively for the launch.

“This is not easy, as we are starting from scratch, but we are now in final planning. Today, I can’t say how many aircraft will be available, because some of them are in maintenance and we don’t know exactly when we will get some aircraft from Lufthansa,” he said.

Following the bankruptcy of airberlin, Lufthansa secured aircraft from leasing companies, but agreed to transfer 15 of them to Laudamotion if Lufthansa was not able to buy NIKI.

NIKI filed for insolvency Dec. 13, 2017 and abruptly ceased operations, four months after airberlin filed for bankruptcy when Etihad Airways, which owned a 29.2% stake in the carrier, ended further financial support.

Lauda said he will announce network, service plans and fleet details next week. 

“The flights we are operating for Condor are already able to book passengers,” he said.

On Feb. 16, German leisure carrier Condor said it will market selected Laudamotion flights from Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Stuttgart (Germany) and Basel (Switzerland) to Palma de Mallorca, Ibiza and Malaga (Spain).

In addition, Condor will provide operational functions, including traffic control or crew planning. Condor said March 6 it will also begin to market Laudamotion flights from Zurich. In total, Condor and Laudamotion will offer 150,000 seats from Switzerland to nine destinations.

Laudamotion will base two aircraft in Switzerland for summer 2018 operations.

Condor is part of the leisure travel group Thomas Cook.

Kurt Hofmann