July 16, 2018 / 11:14 AM / a year ago

Laudamotion rejects Lufthansa allegations of late payments

VIENNA (Reuters) - Austrian leisure airline Laudamotion said on Monday it had always paid its bills for planes leased from Lufthansa (LHAG.DE) in full and on time, rejecting allegations made by the German rival.

A button with the Laudamotion logo is seen at a flight attendant's jacket in Duesseldorf, Germany, March 20, 2018. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

The German flagship carrier said on Friday that Laudamotion repeatedly failed to meet its contractually-agreed lease payment obligations and that it plans to end the leasing agreement for 9 Airbus (AIR.PA) A320s, nearly half of Laudamotion’s fleet.

“These accusations are unfounded,” Laudamotion managing director Andreas Gruber told journalists in Vienna. “We have paid all our bills on time.”

Laudamotion was formed by former formula one motor racing champion Niki Lauda out of the remains of the Niki carrier that was part of Air Berlin.

It flies a fleet of 9 Airbus (AIR.PA) A320s leased from Lufthansa and 10 Boeing (BA.N) 737 jets from shareholder Ryanair (RYA.I).

A first hearing at a court in Britain regarding the lease agreement is scheduled for Friday.

Asked about a plan B in case the court decides in favor of Lufthansa, Gruber said: “There is no need for a plan B.”

Laudamotion is examining whether to claim damages from Lufthansa for delayed payment of around 1.5 million euros ($1.8 million) for flights which Laudamotion operated for Lufthansa in March, April and May, Gruber said.

“We are examining all legal options,” he said.

Gruber also said he expects Ryanair to take control of Laudamotion in the coming weeks, strengthening its position in the power struggle with Lufthansa.

The Irish budget carrier agreed in March with Lauda to buy a 75 percent stake in Laudamotion.

The European Commission approved the increase from its current 24.9 percent stake last week.

Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; editing by Jason Neely

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