Airline entrepreneur and Formula One legend Niki Lauda has passed away at 70 his family said on Monday (20 May).
He had undergone a lung transplant in August. He “passed away peacefully” at his home his family said.
ARGS’ sister magazine EVA carried out an exclusive interview in August with Niki Lauda. The interview can be read here.
Niki Lauda started in the airline business in 1985 on his second retirement from Formula One when he set up Lauda Air. He then sold his shares to majority partner Austrian Airlines in 1999. In late 2003, he then started a new airline, Niki, which was then merged with its major partner Air Berlin.
In early 2016, Niki Lauda took over chartered airline Amira Air and renamed the company Laudamotion. After Air Berlin’s insolvency in 2017, LaudaMotion took over the Niki brand and asset after an unsuccessful bid by Lufthansa and IAG.
In the middle of last year, Ryanair took a 75 per cent stake in Lauda before in January it then took total control of Laudamotion after buying the remaining 25 per cent of the shares of the Austrian low-cost carrier.
In his Formula One days, he took the world title three times, first for Ferrari in 1975 and 1977 and McLaren in 1984.
Tributes have come flooding in for Niki Lauda.
Austrian Airlines tweeted: “Yesterday Niki Lauda passed away. He was one of Austria’s greatest athletes and already a legend in his lifetime. For us he was a respectable competitor and founder of Lauda Air, which was taken over by Austrian Airlines in 2001.”