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Laudamotion, which operates under the Lauda brand, will close by the end of 2020. Its assets will be moved to a new Lauda Europe brand, which will provide wet lease services for other Ryanair Group airlines. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

Laudiamotion to Close, Transfer Assets

Ryanair Group low-cost subsidiary Laudamotion has announced that it will cease operations by the end of 2020. Its assets will be transferred to a new airline called Lauda Europe, which has begun the process to receive certification in Malta, ch-aviation reports.

Lauda Europe, which plans to receive its Air Operator Certificate (AOC) and commence operations by November 2020, will continue to operate Airbus A320-200s under wet-lease terms for the entire Ryanair Group. It will utilize Laudamotion’s current bases in Austria, Germany and Spain in addition to some new bases around Europe.

Staff who accepted Laudamotion’s latest Collective Labor Agreement will be allowed to transfer to Lauda Europe.

“Lauda Europe will allow German and Spanish based cabin crews to pay their income taxes in Germany and in Spain. Lauda Europe will also facilitate new bases being opened across Europe, with pilots and cabin crew employed on local contracts. Lauda Europe, with an Airbus AOC, will offer greater flexibility to the Ryanair Group, as it will open up bases across Europe without the penal restrictions imposed by Austria’s income tax system,” Ryanair Group said in a statement, per ch-aviation, referencing Austria’s decision to tax internationally-based crews despite denying coronavirus-related job protection.

This move should have minimal impact on Lauda’s operations. The airline had decided to drop all in-house operations and fly exclusively under Ryanair’s codes and flight numbers even before this announcement, so transferring assets to the new Lauda Europe is just a matter of changing where the airline is registered. This will get the airline around Austrian tax requirements and bring about some changes to how the airline does business.

History in Austria and Experience in Malta

Ryanair Group already has experience in the Maltese market. It also owns Malta Air, which operates Boeing 737s for Ryanair.

Laudamotion has a rather storied history in Austria. Founded in 2004 as Amira Air, it was bought by Formula 1 champion Niki Lauda in 2016. Originally chartering business jets, the airline expanded into regular commercial flights in early 2018 when assets belonging to Niki, another low-cost airline in Austria once owned by Lauda, were transferred to Laudamotion as part of insolvency proceedings. Ryanair took a majority stake in the airline later that year.

As of July 2020, Laudamotion operates 28 A320-200 aircraft. While Lauda Europe will initially operate these aircraft, Ryanair has expressed interest in replacing all of them with Boeing 737s, which Ryanair itself uses exclusively, to keep the group’s fleet uniform, streamlining operation and maintenance costs. It is possible that such a fleet renewal would see Lauda Europe primarily operating the 737 MAX, though it may be some time before that aircraft is again approved to fly in Europe.

John McDermott
John McDermott
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