Michael O'Leary: “Lauda brand is too weak”

Ryanair Group CEO Michael O'Leary (Photo: Jan Gruber).
Ryanair Group CEO Michael O'Leary (Photo: Jan Gruber).

Michael O'Leary: “Lauda brand is too weak”

Ryanair Group CEO Michael O'Leary (Photo: Jan Gruber).
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The manager describes the announcement of the Austrian government to introduce minimum prices for tickets as stupid and even announces a lawsuit against the AUA-Staatshilfe.

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary intends to sue the rescue package that the Republic of Austria has negotiated with Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines. In an interview with the courier, the manager describes the procedure as "distorting competition" and in particular wants to take the direct grant of 150 million euros to the court of the European Union. The rescue package for the AUA has not yet been finalized, said State Secretary Magnus Brunner on Tuesday in the National Council's Transport Committee.

In the past few weeks, the Lauda management repeatedly used formulations in which they indicated to the staff that, for example, they no longer had any money to pay for the wages of the German staff. Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary told the courier that neither Lauda nor Ryanair would need government aid. One would be "able to survive without taxpayers' money". Group-wide, however, wages are to be reduced by up to 20 percent. In Austria, a new collective agreement was pushed through under considerable pressure. Numerous Lauda employees have also already been laid off.

Ryanair was actually planning to carry ten million Lauda passengers from Vienna. Due to the corona pandemic, the CEO is now significantly lowering expectations. O'Leary told the courier that he expects about five million passengers in the period from April 2020 to March 2021. This is now under the Ryanair brand, because the Lauda brand has not been used in marketing since flight operations were resumed.

The Ryanair Group CEO also admitted that the Lauda brand “actually no longer needed”, but affirmed that they wanted to keep it. However, this relates more to the paintwork of the aircraft and the uniforms of the staff, because Lauda only works as a wet lease operator for the sister company Ryanair DAC. In an interview with the courier, O'Leary justified the change by stating that Lauda would be "too small in the very difficult markets of Austria and Germany" and that Ryanair should be the better-known and stronger brand. Through this, the group of companies can "sell much more size than Lauda".

When asked whether a complete task for the Austrian subsidiary is being planned, the manager avoided it. He hopes that Lauda will "stay there for many years to come" and at the same time raised allegations against Level and Austrian Airlines. O'Leary told the daily Kurier: “We are doing everything we can to ensure that Lauda can survive. We don't want to lock up Lauda and save a fate like Level, which has now become insolvent. ”However, it would be very difficult to compete with Austrian Airlines, which in his opinion will receive 600 million euros in government aid.

Michael O'Leary expressed his point of view regarding the minimum prices for air tickets planned by Transport Minister Leonore Gewessler (Greens): “These 40-euro tickets will never exist because they are completely illegal and violate EU law. This is another example of how the Austrian government is trying to get a German airline, because that is AUA, to support and that after state aid and short-time work. ”Ryanair can earn money with tickets for 9,99 euros in Vienna and will continue to do so . The manager also said to the courier: "No law can force us to charge higher prices." In the direction of the Austrian government, he recommended that they read the laws first "before announcing such stupidity."

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