The European Commission says it has unconditionally approved Ryanair's proposed acquisition of Austrian carrier LaudaMotion (OE, Vienna) after an investigation revealed no anticompetitive concerns.

Ryanair announced in March that it would acquire a 75% controlling stake in LaudaMotion for EUR50 million (USD62 million). Under the proposal, it would initially buy 24.9% of the Austrian regional carrier before increasing that to 75% subject to EU competition approval. Ryanair also has the option of acquiring the outstanding shares in 2022.

The EC said in a statement that its review of the purchase had focussed on the routes from German, Austrian and Swiss airports to leisure destinations in the Mediterranean and Canary Islands, where Ryanair and LaudaMotion's network's overlap. It also looked at whether LaudaMotion's portfolio of airport slots to be acquired by Ryanair at different airports would allow the Irish LCC to prevent competitors from entering or expanding their presence at these airports.

However, in its conclusion, the EC said the increase in Ryanair's slot portfolio would be unlikely to have a negative effect on passengers. In addition, Ryanair will continue to face strong competition from other carriers on the routes to and from airports where its operations overlap with that of LaudaMotion, the bloc said.

LaudaMotion is the company through which namesake founder Niki Lauda re-acquired the assets of Niki, an Austrian leisure carrier that he founded in 2003 but which was then sold to the now-defunct Air Berlin (AB, Berlin Tegel). Lauda was able to regain control of Niki's assets after Lufthansa Group declined to acquire the airline thereby forcing it to file for bankruptcy.

It currently operates a fleet of five A320-200s, five A321-200s, and nine B737-800s (all wet-leased from Ryanair) on flights to 43 destinations in each of Austria, Spain, Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Germany, Switzerland, Portugal, and Croatia.