Irish LCC Ryanair said it welcomed the European Union Commission’s decision to approve Ryanair’s proposed acquisition of a 75% interest in Austria-based LaudaMotion July 12. 

Ryanair currently owns 24.9% in LaudaMotion.

In March, Ryanair entered into partnership with Niki Lauda, ex-Formula 1 champion and founder of bankrupt airberlin subsidiary NIKI, after he retook ownership of NIKI in January and rebranded the bankrupt carrier as LaudaMotion. The new carrier launched operations March 25.

However, Ryanair’s dispute with Lufthansa continues and the Dublin-based LCC believes LaudaMotion is currently under threat by the German carrier, which Ryanair said is attempting to remove the nine aircraft Lufthansa was obliged by the European Commission to provide to LaudaMotion to allow the new Austrian carrier to restart services.

Ryanair chief legal & regulatory officer Juliusz Komorek said: “We urge the EU competition authorities to take action and prevent any further attempts by Lufthansa to damage competition through its anti-consumer behavior,” Komorek said.

Ryanair complained that Lufthansa failed to deliver two of the 11 Airbus A320 family aircraft they were required to under the EU competition decision concerning Lufthansa’s acquisition of airberlin.

Some of the aircraft Lufthansa had committed to deliver are being delayed until after the summer 2018 season, further reducing LaudaMotion’s ability to take up slots and offer 2018 flights and services.

LaudaMotion operates a 19-aircraft fleet this summer by wet leasing 10 Boeing 737-800s from Ryanair.

Ryanair also said Lufthansa delayed a payment of over €1.5 million ($1.75 million) of wet-lease payments properly due to LaudaMotion for flights that LaudaMotion operated for Lufthansa—especially for its LCC Eurowings—in March, April and May.

Lufthansa said in a July 13 statement the claims are without foundation and it has fully complied with all requirements of the EU regarding the demanded transfer of aircraft to LaudaMotion. This affects both the number of aircraft and the contractually agreed upon lease terms.

Niki Lauda told ATW  July 13 that he expects the lease of these nine aircraft to continue as planned for a total period of three years.

A Lufthansa spokesperson in Frankfurt told ATW a German court is doing judicial review and initial results will be announced July 20 on whether the termination of the lease contracts is correct or not. “Lufthansa assumes that this is correct. It is clear that an immediate termination of the lease contracts would be then come into effect and the aircraft will return to Lufthansa,” the spokesperson said.

Kurt Hofmann, hofmann.aviation@netway.at