Irish carrier Ryanair has acquired 100 per cent of shares in Austrian low-cost carrier Laudamotion less than a year after it started operations.

Formula One racing legend Niki Lauda formed the carrier last year after purchasing the assets of his former airline Niki from Air Berlin after it went into administration.

Ryanair originally bought a 24.9 per cent stake in Laudamotion and wet-leased six aircraft to help the airline begin operations.

In July, the Irish carrier received approval to increase its stake to 75 per cent, but Ryanair accused Lufthansa of trying to ‘destabilise” Laudamotion by withholding nine aircraft it was required to hand over in order to buy Air Berlin’s remaining assets.

Lufthansa refuted the claim, pointing the blame instead on Laudamotion for failing to meet its lease payment obligations.

Now Laudamotion has confirmed that it is a full subsidiary of Ryanair and has committed to increase its fleet to 25 aircraft this summer. The carrier has also signed a letter of intent with ‘a number of lessors’ to grow to 30 planes in summer 2020, which will allow it to grow its traffic from 4 million to 7.5 million passengers in 2021.

This summer, Laudamotion will operate four bases as it grows from four to eight aircraft in Vienna, seven in Dusseldorf, three in Stuttgart and two in Palma. It will add a further three planes in Vienna this winter, making it the second-largest at the airport behind Austrian Airlines.

Laudamotion CEO Andreas Gruber said: “With the backing of Ryanair, Laudamotion is set to grow strongly over the next three years to carry 10 million passengers per annum. We will release details of up to 20 new routes for winter 2019 once we have completed our airport and handling negotiations by the end of March.

“Our summer 2019 programme will allow us to carry 6 million passengers in year two, a growth rate of 50 per cent over the four million carried in year one, as we continue to offer our customers in Vienna, Stuttgart, Dusseldorf and Palma the lowest air fares on a fleet of young Airbus aircraft with widespread passenger appeal and great Lauda service.”

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