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Laudamotion (image: Laudamotion)

Laudamotion, Ryanair and Lufthansa in dispute over aircrafts

The Austrian based Laudamotion and 25 percent owned by Ryanair is arguing with German giant Lufthansa over aircrafts not delivered after Air Berlin bankruptcy.

Former F1 driver Niki Lauda is also into the airline business.

In 2003 Niki Lauda sold his small NIKI Airline to Air Berlin, being mostly involved in flying contracted charter business. During fall 2017, Air Berlin went bankrupt and all aircrafts flying for the airline were grounded and reposessed by its owners, a number of leasing companies, as Air Berlin and  sub-brands did not own any of its aircrafts, all were leased.

As Air Berlin bankruptcy proceedings were going forward in Germany, a number of airlines, Lufthansa, easyJet, IAG and Ryanair lined-up to get a share of Air Berlin assets, but under the radar Niki Lauda was working to get his hands of NIKI. After a surprisingly court decision, the bankruptcy proceedings of NIKI were transferred from Germany to Austria. This gave Niki Lauda the upper hand versus IAG, who was very interested in snapping-up NIKI, resulting in Niki Lauda purchased 100 percent of NIKI in January 2018, including a number of A320 aircrafts and shortly renamed it to Laudamotion.

IAG and Ryanair.

Willy Walsh in IAG and Michael O’Leary in Ryanair had their eyes on the newly established Laudamotion, both wanted to set up a low-cost base in Vienna. Many where surprised when Niki Lauda and Michael O’Leary jointly announced last February that Ryanair had purchased 24.9 percent of the shares in Laudamotion, with an option to buy up to 75 percent, if approved by the European Commission. This was a blow to IAG, who had planned to merge Laudamotion with its low-cost arm Veuling.

Laudamotion and Ryanair in dispute with Lufthansa on aircraft deliveries.

As Ryanair on last Thursday got the European Commission approval to purchase 75 percent of Laudamotion, securing that Ryanair also would invest Euro 100 million in the airline and maintain the brand Laudamotion. However, Ryanair and Laudamotion accuses Lufthansa who bought the major part of Laudamotion’s former parent, Air Berlin, to hold back nine A320 aircrafts that should have been transferred from Air Belin to Laudamotion. Ryanair state that Laudamotion only could operate the important summer season with nine own A320 aircrafts and had to lease ten Boeing 737’s from Ryanair to be able to fly its planned summer program. Ryanair’s head legal and regulatory officer, Julius Komorek stated in typical Ryanair way, that he urge the EU competition authorities to take action and prevent any further attempts by Lufthansa to damage competition through its ant-consumer behaviour.

Lufthansa said in a statement last Friday; Laudamotion has recently failed – repeatedly – to meet its contractually-agreed lease payment obligations. The German carrier also said it needed planes to expand its LCC Eurowings network and it has therefor exercised a right to terminate the lease agreements. Whether Lufthansa can end the leasing contracts will depend on a court decision in the UK, which is expected to be announced on July 20th.