Ryanair lashes out at concerns on competition

Elizabeth Fournier
RYANAIR boss Michael O’Leary lashed out at the UK’s competition regulator yesterday, after it said it may force the budget airline to sell down its stake in smaller rival Aer Lingus.

O’Leary said that the Competition Commission’s concerns that Ryanair’s stake meant it could unfairly influence strategy at Aer Lingus was “bizarre and manifestly wrong”. He also claimed it broke EU laws by contradicting an earlier decision by the European Commission.

“This case ... is yet another enormous waste of UK taxpayer resources on a case which has little if any impact on UK consumers,” he claimed.

In a preliminary ruling, the Competition Commission said the 29.8 per cent shareholding could obstruct Aer Lingus’ ability to merge with another airline, raise capital or sell its valuable slots at London’s Heathrow Airport.

It proposed three options available to Ryanair to remedy the problem – selling its entire stake, selling down the stake, or an agreement on how it would use its influence in the future. A final decision will be made in July.