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Ryanair completes Laudamotion deal as it targets 10m passengers

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Growth: Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary. Photo: PA

Growth: Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary. Photo: PA

High-flyer: Formula 1 legend Niki Lauda was behind Laudamotion. Photo: Reuters

High-flyer: Formula 1 legend Niki Lauda was behind Laudamotion. Photo: Reuters

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Growth: Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary. Photo: PA

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 75pc stake in Laudamotion, stumping up €50m 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.

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

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

"In winter 2019 we hope to announce at least one new base, which will be outside of Austria and Germany, and 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 in the current financial year, and faces competition from IAG's low-cost airline, Level.

Irish Independent