British Airways’ owner IAG has lost its bid to buy Austrian airline Niki to the carrier’s founder Niki Lauda.

The former Formula One champion’s bid for Niki, which had been part of the collapsed Air Berlin group, has been accepted by Niki’s administrators in Austria.

IAG had originally struck a deal to buy Niki’s assets for €36.5 million, including up to 15 A320 aircraft, with Air Berlin’s administrators in Germany in December.

But IAG had to submit a new bid when Niki’s insolvency process was shifted to Austria following a legal complaint by a group of former Niki passengers seeking to get their money back after the airline stopped flying in December.

Niki administrators in Austria this time selected Laudamotion as the “best bidder”. Lauda set up the airline in 2003 before selling it to Air Berlin in 2011.

IAG resubmitted its bid on January 19, 2018 and has been advised today that the bid was unsuccessful,” said IAG in a statement. “IAG is disappointed that Niki will not be able to develop and grow stronger as part of the group.”

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