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Travel industry news

21 May 2019

BY James Chapple

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Niki Lauda: Formula 1 legend and Laudamotion founder dies aged 70

Formula 1 legend Niki Lauda, who founded German pan-European airline Laudamotion, has died aged 70.

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Niki Lauda: Formula 1 legend and Laudamotion founder dies aged 70

Three-time F1 champion Lauda won two titles for Ferrari in 1975 and 1977, bookending his infamous and horrific crash at the 1976 German Grand Prix where he suffered severe burns.


Lauda though returned to his car 40 days later and eventually went on to win the 1984 championship with McLaren.


Until last year, a prominent figure at the new dominant Mercedes F1 team, Lauda underwent a lung transplant last August. He “passed away peacefully” on Monday (20 May) his family said, the BBC reports.


In 1979, Lauda founded Austrian headquartered Lauda Air, and took up full-time management of the carrier following his retirement from F1 in 1985, eventually selling his stake to Austrian Airlines.


He founded a second airline, Niki, in 2003, which merged with Air Berlin in 2011. He then took over Amira Air in 2016, renaming the carrier Laudamotion.


Laudamotion acquired Niki and its assets when Air Berlin collapsed in 2017. Ryanair took a stake in Laudamotion in 2018, before the group completed a full buyout earlier this year, dropping the “-motion” suffix.


The airline announced in March it would launch flights to Birmingham, Edinburgh and Liverpool from its Vienna base in October.

 

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary described Lauda as "visionary leader’ and "aviation pioneer".

 

"Niki was an exceptional entrepreneur whose courage and fighting spirit inspired millions," said O’Leary. "While we are devastated at his untimely passing, his spirit and vision will live on in Laudamotion, which proudly carries his name."

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