VIENNA, Sept 20 (Reuters) - An Austrian tour operator, which is owed money by the low-cost airline Niki, has applied for bankruptcy proceedings to be initiated against the Air Berlin unit at a regional court, local daily Kurier said on Wednesday.
The step does not necessarily mean Niki has to close down its business, but the airline would need a new licence to continue flying, the paper said.
Air Berlin filed for bankruptcy protection in August after major shareholder Etihad Airways pulled the plug on funding, but the Austrian unit was not included in the filing.
Lufthansa and several other parties including former Formula One driver Niki Lauda have put in bids for the whole group or for parts of it.
A committee of Air Berlin’s creditors is to discuss bids on Thursday with a final decision on who to sell to on Sept. 25.
Niki and the regional court of Korneuburg could not be reached for comment. The paper did not say which tour operator submitted the application.
Austrian-based Niki has lower costs than Air Berlin and earlier this year it started flying on popular routes from Germany to tourist destinations in Spain. (Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; Editing by Himani Sarkar)