Austrian low-fare carrier Niki is presenting a bullish outlook for trading through the remainder of 2009 and into next year as it places its first Embraer 190 into revenue service.

The 104-seater is based in Vienna and is being deployed on services to Innsbruck, Munich and Milan.

"We are benefiting at the moment from passengers moving away from expensive tickets to fly with us, and the biggest help is Austrian Airlines because they are struggling and all they have is negative press all the time," says Niki founder and president, former racing driver Niki Lauda.

Air Berlin 737 - Niki E-190
 © Andrew Doyle/Flight International

"We are in a lucky situation in that our home carrier is weak and our product is right for this time of crisis."

Niki plans to use its E-190s to open new routes currently too thin to support its larger Airbus A320-family aircraft. A second E-190 will be delivered in June, with the third and fourth to follow in May and June 2010. The final aircraft on firm order is scheduled for delivery in 2011.

Meanwhile, Lauda says he has no plans to emulate his former airline Lauda Air - now controlled by Austrian Airlines - with a move into the low-cost long-haul market: "At the moment I would be extremely worried," he says, and sugests that he would be overcome with nerves "if I would be crazy enough to say I would go low-cost to Bangkok. I think I would kill myself because at this time it makes absolutely no sense."

Source: Flight International