TUI fly (Germany) (X3, Hanover) is interested in taking over Niki's slots, but has ruled out submitting a bid for the insolvent Austrian airline itself.

"At the next slot distribution, we will look very closely at how we will improve our position," CEO Roland Keppler wrote in an internal communication to employees, seen by the German news agency dpa.

Keppler also said that the airline's management has carefully considered a bid for Niki, but decided against such a move.

It is unclear which slots TUI fly is most interested in. According to the ch-aviation capacity module, the Austrian leisure specialist operated mostly out of Duesseldorf Int'l with forty-eight weekly departures, Berlin Tegel with forty-one departures and Hamburg Helmut Schmidt with twenty-four departures. The TUI Group unit currently operates twenty-four weekly departures out of Dusseldorf but its main German airport is Frankfurt Int'l with thirty weekly departures.

According to the German newspaper Handelsblatt, six companies have submitted bids for Niki ahead of the passing of a Thursday, December 21, deadline. The list includes founder Niki Lauda, Thomas Cook Group, IAG International Airlines Group, Ryanair, PrivatAir (Switzerland), and the Zeitfracht/Nayak consortium. The takeover process should be concluded in January. The Austrian government has been considering extending a bridge loan to Niki so that it can restart operations before the transaction is completed.

A unit of bankrupt German carrier Air Berlin (AB, Berlin Tegel), Niki filed for insolvency on December 13 and suspended operations a day after a Lufthansa Group takeover bid was blocked by the European Commission on competition grounds. Austrocontrol has already confirmed that the airline will not lose its slots at the Austrian gateway as long as insolvency proceedings continue, Reuters has reported.