Austrian low-cost carrier Laudamotion will double its fleet to 18 planes next summer with a new design and raise pilots’ pay following Ryanair’s takeover of a 75% majority stake.
The Austrian airline, which is now 75% owned by Ryanair and 25% by Niki Lauda, will expand from nine to 18 Airbus planes in summer 2019. In addition, the airline will introduce a new aircraft design featuring just the name ‘Lauda’ from the end of this year onwards. The Vienna-based airline will also increase pay for pilots, putting them well ahead of Eurowings.
Laudamotion CEO Andreas Gruber said: “Laudamotion now faces the future with great confidence, backed by the enormous financial strength of Ryanair, our new majority shareholder and Europe’s largest airline. These nine additional 2019 Airbus deliveries ensure that Laudamotion will grow again by at least 20% in 2019 to 5 million guests a year. We look forward to offering even more low fare choices to Austrian and German customers.”
Gruber told journalists in Vienna that Laudamotion will operate as an independent Austrian brand under the umbrella of Ryanair. "The airline has no pressure to do everything that Ryanair does," added Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary.
The Laudamotion CEO said the airline will make a loss of about €150 million this year, its first year of operations, but aims to break even in 2019 and then become profitable in 2020. The airline plans to expand the fleet to 30 planes in 2020 and carry about 6.2 million passengers. This would make Laudamotion about as the same size as predecessor Niki.
Ryanair’s Chief Commercial Officer, David O’Brien, commented: “Ryanair is pleased to complete the purchase of a 75% shareholding in Laudamotion GmbH from Niki Lauda and his team. We applaud the extraordinary work of Niki Lauda, Andreas Gruber and all the Laudamotion team in the face of very difficult market circumstances and unfair competitor activity to deliver this flying programme this summer, which has provided low fares for the first time ever on over 53 routes.”
He added: “We look forward to fulfilling Niki Lauda’s vision of Laudamotion as Austria’s No. 1 low fare airline and providing competition and choice to the high fare airlines which have for too long fleeced Austrian and German consumers/visitors.”