Etihad Airways has pulled out of talks with TUI to start a new leisure airline. TUI is Europe’s largest tour operator. The new airline was to be formed from a merger between TUIfly and Niki, Air Berlin’s leisure airline. Etihad was set to buy Niki from Air Berlin, but the German airline says that its subsidiary is no longer available for purchase.
“A strong European leisure airline continues to make great strategic sense,” said Sebastian Ebel, a member of TUI’s executive board. “However, Niki is no longer available for a joint venture.”
Etihad was sent to purchase Niki before combining the business with TUIfly. Though Etihad has already Air Berlin paid €300 million for Niki, the Air Berlin group says that Niki will continue to operate flights as normal.
“Further details of this structure will be announced in due course by Air Berlin,” Etihad said in a statement.
Though they will not work together, all three groups say that they are still interested in creating their own leisure airlines. Air Berlin, for example, has expressed interest in working with Lufthansa.
“We need to find a partner in 2017, and Lufthansa is a possible one,” said Air Berlin CEO Thomas Winkelmann. “I will look at everything that makes sense for Air Berlin and secures jobs in the long term.”