Niki Lauda, ex-Grand Prix driver, had been ousted from Lauda Air (part of the Austrian Airlines Group) by boardroom politics in November 2000. In 2003 Niki Lauda acquired the former Aero Lloyd Austria operation. The airline started operations on 28 November 2003 with the temporary name FlyNiki. On 9 January 2004, Niki announced cooperation with Air Berlin. The two airlines call their cooperation "the first European low-cost airliner alliance". Russian carrier S7 Airlines is projected to join. In the meantime, all three are members of oneworld alliance — S7 joined late 2010, Air Berlin in early 2012, Niki at the same time as an affiliate.
The airline has been owned by Air Berlin since 8 November 2011 and has 650 people working for them of which around 90% are employed through Labourpool Gmbh, a personnel leasing company. Staff turnover is generally high due to this structure being used as employees do not generally enjoy any protection and can be dismissed with a 6 week notice period. It also protects the airline against disgruntled ex-employees as they cannot sue against the airline as they are technically employees of Labourpool. The personnel manager of Niki also acts for Labourpool. However in July 2013, Air Berlin CEO Wolfgang Prock-Schauer decided that all Niki personnel employed through Labourpool would be employed directly by Niki from 1 January 2014.
Niki offers complimentary sandwich and non-alcoholic drink meal service on its short haul flights and an additional buy on board service that has a large range of meal items for sale. On charter services and some business destinations such as Zurich, Frankfurt or Munich, hot meals are complimentary.