In a move that can only be designed to seriously wind up IAG boss Willy Walsh, along with Lufthansa’s board, and place RyanAir right where it wanted to be in the beginning of the NIKI saga, following the fall of AirBerlin, the airline announced today that it was buying 24.9% of the newly re-branded airline. That’s the limit on purchase of shares before its legally required to mount a takeover bid.
Once that has happened, and the company has acquired the approvals of the EU Competition Commission, RyanAir will take its ownership to 75%, the rest staying with founder Niki Lauda.
The two parties have agreed to work together to make Laudamotion a viable, Vienna based, Austrian airline, with the expectation of being fully profitable within three years. The Plan is to grow the fleet back to 30 Airbus A320 series.
Essentially Ryan Air has taken ownership of the airline through the back door, and it’s going to leave several big names seething that they didn’t see it coming. It puts a thorn in the side of Lufthansa Groups Austrian and German operations with Eurowings, and one they cannot easily grind down through relentless competition, when it has RyanAir to back it.
IAG will be furious they lost this key opportunity to push Vueling further East and North into Central Europe.
Niki Lauda is not an easy man to control, sharp logical and with an excellent brain for business, Ryan Air will have their hands full keeping him in check.