Niki Lauda buys Amira Air
Former Formula 1 world champion Niki Lauda has re-entered business aviation with the purchase of Austrian private jet operator Amira Air.
According to several article’s in the Austrian media, the sale was completed during the Christmas period, with Lauda reportedly saying that the purchase was “Insanely expensive”
Lauda had previously owned an airline called Lauda Air. Setup initially in 1979, plans for the airline were put on hold for several years while Lauda returned to Formula 1 for three seasons in the early 1980s. The airline finally began operations in 1985 with a BAC 1-11 leased from Romanian Airline TAROM.
Shortly after the start of operations the company acquired a Boeing 737, a type that would form the backbone of the Lauda fleet, flying mostly to leisure destinations around Europe and North Africa. Later the airline would add a small fleet of 767s for longer range flights to Thailand, Vietnam and Australia, but these were replaced by more fuel efficient 777 aircraft.
As well as scheduled and charter flights, the company also set up its own executive charter division, operating a small fleet of three short range business jets.
Following a slowdown in European movements in the late 90s, Lauda sold the airline to Austrian Airlines. Lauda then stayed on the board until 2001 following some changes in the management structure.
Lauda’s break from aviation was short lived, and he was soon back with the formation of NIKI, which Lauda formed after acquiring Aero Lloyd Austria.
The airline soon announced a cooperation with Germany’s Air Berlin, and was eventually merged into the airline in 2011.
Lauda’s interests in business aviation continued, and in 2010 he was announced as the launch customer for the Bombardier Global 5000 with the Global Vision flight deck. Lauda went on to operate a Challenger 300 and a Global 6000, and currently holds an order for a Global 7000.
Amira Air were setup in 2004 by Croatian born businessman Ronny Pecik. Starting from a small fleet, the operator currently holds 14 aircraft under its AOC. The majority of these are all Bombardier build aircraft, however the fleet also includes a solitary Cessna Citation CJ2.
According to further reports in the Austrian media, Lauda has acquired Amira Air to further expand on its operations, and is currently deciding on a possible re brand.