British Airways owner IAG is reportedly considering once again bidding for Austrian airline Niki, as Lufthansa faces pushback from competition authorities over its purchase.
Lufthansa signed a €210m (£184m) deal to buy half of the assets of collapsed carrier Air Berlin in October, which included the Niki and LG Walter businesses, together with around 20 planes.
However, the deal still required approval from competition bodies, and since October, EU regulators have voiced concern over what this bulk purchase would do to ticket prices and competition. Lufthansa owns the Austrian Airlines flag carrier.
Speaking to newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung last month, EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager warned the acquisition could create monopolies on some routes.
Reports emerged earlier today that Lufthansa had been set a deadline of midnight tonight to offer competition remedies. The EU is expected to decide by Dec 21 whether these remedies are sufficient to grant approval for the purchase.
However, according to reports, the European Commission is leaning towards blocking the takeover of Niki specifically, following a meeting on Wednesday between Ms Vestager and Lufthansa chief executive Carsten Spohr.
In light of the rising uncertainty over whether Niki will be back on the market, IAG is thought to be considering resurrecting its earlier offer for the airline.
Bloomberg, citing a person familiar with the plan, said the bid may be revived if Lufthansa calls off the purchase of Niki due to the EU competition concerns, in order to enable the rest of the deal to go ahead.