September 20, 2017 / 6:18 AM / in a month

Air Berlin unit Niki denies has unpaid bills to tour operator

VIENNA (Reuters) - Austrian airline Niki said on Wednesday it had paid all bills owed to a tour operator and it therefore expected to avert bankruptcy proceedings which have hit parent Air Berlin (AB1.DE) .

A German carrier Air Berlin aircraft is pictured at Tegel airport in Berlin, Germany, September 12, 2017. REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski

Law firm Kosch & Partner said earlier it had applied for insolvency proceedings against Niki on behalf of an Austrian tour operator which said it was owed money by Niki. The law firm declined to identify the tour operator.

“We have reviewed the relevant post, and the claim has been settled,” Niki said in an email to Reuters. “We thus assume that the proceedings can be closed.”

The Korneuburg regional court said it was examining the case.

A company just paying a bill is not necessarily enough to convince a judge of its financial health, said Anton Klikovitz, an insolvency expert at creditor protection association Kreditschutzverband 1870.

“The court has to examine the overall financial situation,” Klikovitz said. “The examination’s purpose is to find out whether there is a bankruptcy situation or not.”

Parent Air Berlin separately filed for bankruptcy protection in August after shareholder Etihad Airways pulled the plug on funding.

The German government agreed then to provide Air Berlin with a 150 million euro ($179 million) bridging loan to ensure that flights continue for a further three months.

A committee of Air Berlin creditors is to discuss bids for the airline’s assets on Thursday with a final decision on sales due on Sept. 25.

Germany’s Lufthansa (LHAG.DE) and several other parties including former Formula One driver Niki Lauda, founder and one-time owner of Niki, have put in bids for the group or parts of it.

Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; additional reporting by Victoria Bryan; editing by Jason Neely

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