The Etihad Aviation Group (EAG) Board has supported plans to create a new European leisure airline group in a joint venture with TUI AG, with a fleet of around 60 aircraft, focused on point-to-point flying in order to connect key European tourist markets. The transaction is subject to approvals by aviation regulatory bodies and anti-trust authorities.The planned transaction consists of an agreement for EAG’s subsidiary Etihad Investment Holding Company LLC (Etihad) to acquire the 49.8% share indirectly held by airberlin in its subsidiary airline NIKI Luftfahrt GmbH. At the closing of the transaction, Etihad would directly contribute the share in NIKI to the new European leisure airline group and would not effectively control, or become a majority owner of NIKI. TUI would contribute its subsidiary TUIfly GmbH to the joint venture, which includes the 14 aircraft currently operated by TUIfly for airberlin under a wet-lease agreement.This follows approval by TUI AG’s Supervisory Board.In the joint venture company, TUI AG would hold 24.8% of shares, with Etihad holding a 25% stake. The remaining 50.2% would continue to be held by the existing private foundation NIKI Privatstiftung.Headquartered in Vienna, the new leisure airline group is scheduled to begin operations in April 2017, the start of the summer season, serving a broad network of destinations from Germany, Austria and Switzerland (Hanover, Berlin, Düsseldorf, Cologne, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Munich, Nuremberg, Baden-Baden, Hamburg, Basel and Vienna). Key markets would include the Balearics, Canaries, mainland Spain and Greece.The joint venture would be able to leverage synergies and economies of scale accessible through Etihad Airways Partners and the TUI Group to ensure a lean overhead structure and competitive production cost.