More FlyNiki connections as Lufthansa strike looms

Austrian budget airline FlyNiki has announced plans to increase its connections to German airports as Lufthansa pilots prepare to strike from Monday.Pilots of the German aviation giant announced yesterday (Weds) they would go on strike between Monday and Thursday over fears their jobs are at risk. Union leaders claimed the company board had plans to engage more pilots from its subsidies including Austrian Airlines (AUA) as their pilots earn less.Niki Lauda, head of FlyNiki – who cooperates with Berlin-based carrier Air Berlin – said today he planned to offer more connections to German cities as of Monday.Lauda said detailed information would be released soon, adding he was “very excited” to see whether rival AUA will also offer more flights. AUA bosses already announced they had plans to do so.Lufthansa acquired a main stake in AUA last year, a move analysts regarded as the last way out from AUA’s flight into bankruptcy.Lauda was one of the most outspoken critics of the deal. The former racing driver was especially furious about the Austrian government’s decision to bolster AUA with 500 million Euros to ensure Lufthansa take over.Lauda claimed FlyNiki was market leader regarding connections between Austria and neighbouring Germany with more than 100 flights per week.Air Berlin meanwhile announced last night it had increased its stake in FlyNiki from 24 per cent to 49.9 per cent. Lauda stressed the airline would nevertheless remain Austrian.