March 23, 2018 / 10:32 AM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-Niki Lauda's new airline to cooperate with Lufthansa

* Lufthansa had tried to buy the struggling carrier

* Deal with Laudamotion runs until end of May

* Further cooperation to be evaluated (Adds detail, competition authority, background)

VIENNA, March 23 (Reuters) - Austria’s Laudamotion will provide up to eight crewed aircraft to Lufthansa’s low-cost carrier Eurowings until the end of May, Niki Lauda’s repurchased and rebranded carrier said on Friday.

Lufthansa had planned to grow Eurowings by buying failed Air Berlin’s Niki unit itself but scrapped the purchase after the European Commission indicated it would veto the deal.

Niki was instead bought by its founder Lauda, who beat rival offers from British Airways-owner IAG and Irish low-cost giant Ryanair.

The three-times Formula One world champion then sold 75 percent of the carrier to Ryanair before the first planes took off again.

But Lauda, who also secured a cooperation deal with Thomas Cook’s Condor, is still under time pressure to fill his planes for the summer, so he is keen to benefit from Lufthansa’s sales and marketing channels.

The German flagship carrier, on the other hand, can put Laudamotion’s capacity to good use.

The basic agreement between Lauda and Lufthansa covers a little more than two months, not the whole summer season that runs to October.

“Laudamotion and Eurowings will evaluate a possible cooperation beyond that date in the coming weeks,” Laudamotion said in a statement.

Eurowings did not immediately comment. Austria’s competition authority said it would give its view on the deal after the Easter holidays, which run to the start of April. (Reporting by Kirsti Knolle Editing by David Goodman and Edmund Blair)

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