October 9, 2018 / 2:37 PM / in 13 days

Lufthansa and Ryanair settle dispute over leased planes

VIENNA, Oct 9 (Reuters) - Lufthansa and Ryanair-backed carrier Laudamotion settled a dispute over leasing contracts, avoiding a London court hearing that was scheduled for November, both airlines said on Tuesday.

The German flagship carrier said in July it wanted to end an agreement to lease planes to Laudamotion, claiming the Austrian leisure airline had failed to meet payments. A London court was scheduled to start proceedings in the case next month, as Laudamotion rejected the allegations.

Lufthansa and Laudamotion have now agreed that the Austrian group will redeliver the nine Airbus aircraft it has leased from Lufthansa between Dec. 31 and the end of June next year, the two groups said in a statement.

“On that basis the parties have settled the litigation between them,” the two companies said. “The matter will not therefore be heard by the High Court in London in November 2018.”

The dispute highlighted the battle for market share in Germany, Austria and Switzerland after the collapse of Air Berlin and has shown how keen airlines are to get planes.

Laudamotion was formed by former Formula One ace Niki Lauda out of the Austrian Niki unit of collapsed Air Berlin early this year. Ryanair agreed to take a majority stake in the leisure airline soon after in a major push on the German and Austrian markets.

Lufthansa, which had wanted to take over Niki itself but had to abandon the plan for antitrust reasons, sees Laudamotion as a threat to its dominant position in the German market, especially on routes to Spain, according to analysts. (Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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