Belfast Telegraph

Ryanair in total buy-up of F1 legend Niki Lauda's budget fleet

Acquisition: Niki Lauda
Acquisition: Niki Lauda

By John Mulligan

Ryanair has completed its acquisition of low-cost Austrian carrier Laudamotion.

It signalled last year that it planned to take full control of the airline, which was created from the ashes of the Niki carrier that collapsed in 2017 along with its parent Air Berlin.

Formula 1 legend Niki Lauda gazumped Aer Lingus owner IAG and Lufthansa in 2017 to seize control of Niki, with its assets acquired by Laudamotion.

Last year Ryanair agreed to take a 75% stake in Laudamotion, stumping up €50m (£43.5m) for the holding, and an additional €50m in working capital.

Ryanair plans to boost Vienna-based Laudamotion's fleet to 25 aircraft for this summer from 19 last year.

It has also signed letters of intent with a number of lessors to increase the airline's fleet to 30 Airbus jets in summer 2020.

Ryanair said that will enable Laudamotion to grow its passenger numbers from four million a year to six million during the 2020 financial year that ends in March.

Ryanair expects Laudamotion to carry 7.5 million passengers the following year.

Chief executive Andreas Gruber said that the airline will be carrying 10 million passengers a year within three years.

Deputy chief executive Colin Casey said the carrier is currently negotiating new routes and handling agreements with more than 50 airports.

He said that up to 20 new routes would be announced for the coming winter by the end of March, when agreements were reached.

"In winter 2019 we hope to announce at least one new base, which will be outside of Austria and Germany.

"There are a number of new airports both in central and western Europe who are pitching to win this business," he said.

The Austrian airline is expected to make a loss of about €150m (£130.5m) in the current financial year, and faces competition from low-cost IAG airline, Level.

Belfast Telegraph