BERLIN (Reuters) - Lufthansa's (>> Lufthansa Group) budget carrier Eurowings is in talks with former motor racing champion Niki Lauda and others to lease planes and crew to reach a goal of growing its fleet to 210 planes, Eurowings' chief executive said on Tuesday.
"Yes, we are also talking to Lauda about whether and to what extent he can provide us with capacity," Thorsten Dirks said.
"There are many options," he added, but declined to say with which other parties Eurowings was in talks.
Lufthansa had planned to grow Eurowings to 210 planes by buying failed German airline Air Berlin's (>> Air Berlin Plc) Niki and LGW units, but it ended up scrapping the Niki purchase after the European Commission indicated it would veto the deal. Niki was bought by Lauda instead.
Even without the Niki deal, Eurowings is growing its fleet to about 190 planes from 160 this summer.
It has hired 2,000 new crew over the past few months, or 90 percent of the staff it needs to staff all of those planes, it said on Tuesday.
Airlines across Europe are taking on crews to fly additional planes and gain market share after this year's collapse of Niki parent Air Berlin and Monarch.
(Reporting by Maria Sheahan; Editing by Christoph Steitz)