Lauda Set To Remain In Vienna Operating Ryanair Wet Lease Flights

Ryanair has announced a swathe of new routes from its home at Vienna airport. Surprisingly, many of these will be flown on Lauda aircraft, as the airline has been tasked with supplying capacity to Ryanair on a wet lease basis. This comes as Ryanair’s outspoken boss, Michael O’Leary, continues to take swipes at Lufthansa, the Austrian government and bailouts in general.

Ryanair is starting Vienna services next week. Photo: Getty Images

Lauda will still be at Vienna

Although Ryanair’s Lauda will no longer have a base in Vienna, following a spat with the workers union that led to 300 job losses, the red and white planes will still be in attendance. Ryanair today announced the resumption of 64 routes from its Vienna base, many of which will be operated on Lauda metal.

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In an interview today for Anna.Aero, Ryanair’s Director of Route Development, Niall O’Connor, explained why. He said,

“For Lauda, it’s been a challenging time for those guys. They’ve been trying to manage their costs. In order to do that, the decision was made that Lauda will operate as a wet lease operator for Ryanair, certainly in the short term.

“The positive news is that today we’re actually announcing that we will continue to have base operations in Vienna. We will have about 64 routes which will be announced today, 25 of those are new. We expect to continue to grow in Vienna as part of the Ryanair Group, and Lauda will have an important role operating as a wet lease provider.”

Lauda vienna scrapped
Lauda will fly out of Vienna, despite its hub there being closed. Photo: Getty Images

For lovers of Austria’s home-grown airline, seeing their local planes still operating from the airport will be a welcome sight. Although tickets will be sold by Ryanair itself, and technically they’ll be Ryanair flights, the experience will be almost as if Lauda never left.

Building routes from Vienna

From next Wednesday, 1st July, Ryanair will begin operating flights from Vienna to a total of 64 destinations. 25 of these routes are brand new. According to the airline, the routes opening next week include:

  • Over 25 summer destinations, including Faro, Malaga, Malta, Naples & Palma.
  • Over 20 city break destinations, including Dublin, Milan, Madrid, Lisbon & Warsaw.
  • Ryanair will also operate two routes to/from Salzburg and one route to/from Klagenfurt.
Ryanair getty
Of the 64 routes, 25 are new to the airport. Photo: Getty Images

Speaking about the route launch, larger than life CEO Michael O’Leary couldn’t resist taking a swipe at his rivals in the market. He said,

“Our Vienna base will serve 64 routes, with air fares starting from just €9.99 one way before some crazy Austrian Minister tries to force Austrian consumers and visitors to pay higher €40 air fares!!! Ryanair will provide non-State Subsidised competition and choice to the high fare Austrian Airlines (which is a subsidiary of the German subsidy junkie Lufthansa Group).”

Austria recently announced a minimum price cap on flights, which, when it comes into effect, will see the end of these super-cheap flights. O’Leary, while taking a swipe at Lufthansa, also stated that Ryanair wouldn’t be taking the fare cap lying down, saying,

“Ryanair will oppose any illegal effort by the Austrian Govt to force consumers to pay high fares.”

Taking Lufthansa to court

Today, Lufthansa held an Extraordinary General Meeting, which began at midday lasted more than six hours. The main topic of discussion was the giant €9bn ($10bn) bailout, which was finally approved at around 18:00 this evening local time.

Ryanair, naturally, is not happy with this bailout, the largest that we’ve seen in Europe during the current crisis. O’Leary has thrown some colorful words around in regards to this situation, but now he’s taking a more serious approach.

Lauda Vienna job losses
O’Leary wants to take Lufthansa to court over its bailout. Photo: Getty Images

Reacting to the European Commission’s approval of Lufthansa’s bailout, O’Leary said,

“Under the pretext of Covid-19, the German Government is giving Lufthansa a bank-breaking bailout of €9bn which even the airline’s own CEO admits it does not need.

“In clear breach of European competition rules, Berlin is wasting vast amounts of taxpayers’ money to prop up an uncompetitive airline that should be putting its own house in order instead of once again running to the Government for help.”

He finished his statement by declaring war against the German airline, saying that,

“The Commission’s approval of the Lufthansa bailout today is a betrayal of the core principles of EU law, which we have no alternative but to refer to the EU General Court.”

It wouldn’t be the first time O’Leary has threatened court action over bailouts, but this is perhaps the biggest airline he has attempted to take on.

What do you make of all the goings-on at Ryanair today? Will you be pleased to see Lauda in Vienna? Will the court case go anywhere? As always, please do share your thoughts in the comments.