Tuesday 20 November 2018

Ryanair to partner with F1 legend Lauda to develop Austrian airline

Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary
Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary

Ellie Donnelly & John Mulligan

Ryanair has entered into an agreement with Formula One legend Niki Lauda, which will see the airline support Mr Lauda’s plan to develop and grow LaudaMotion, an Austrian airline based in Vienna.

LaudaMotion, which is owned by Mr Lauda, recently acquired many of the assets, including A320 aircraft, of the former Niki Airline, and will shortly start a range of scheduled and charter services from Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Under the terms of the agreement, Ryanair will acquire an initial 24.9pc stake in LaudaMotion, which will rise as soon as possible to 75pc, subject to EU Competition approval, a statement from Ryanair said.

The cost of the 75pc investment in LaudaMotion (if approved by the EU) will be less than €50m, Ryanair said, with the low-fares airline confirming that it will provide LaudaMotion with an additional €50m for year one start-up and operating costs.

Mr Lauda will chair the Board of the Austrian airline, and oversee his strategy of building a successful Austrian low fares airline, while Ryanair will provide financial and management support, as well as six wet-lease aircraft for 2018 under the agreement.

"LaudaMotion will benefit from this partnership between Niki Lauda and Ryanair," Michael O’Leary, chief executive of Ryanair, said.

"With access to the Ryanair fleet and financial resources, LaudaMotion will now grow more rapidly."

Independent.ie learned last month that Niki Lauda had visited the Ryanair headquarters in Dublin. Asked at the time by Independent.ie if it was working on a co-venture with Mr Lauda, Ryanair said it didn't comment on "rumour or speculation".

Commenting on the announcement today, Mr Lauda said he was "thrilled" that through the partnership with Ryanair LaudaMotion will be able to establish itself as a strong competitor and to grow quickly and sustainably.

"A new player in the aviation market is born and I am looking forward to offering our passengers an extensive route portfolio at competitive air fares."

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