Ryanair may have to cut Aer Lingus stake

Suzie Neuwirth

LOW-COST airline Ryanair may have to reduce its stake in Irish airline Aer Lingus after a ruling from the UK antitrust regulator.

The UK Competition Commission made a provisional decision that Ryanair, through its 29.8 per cent shareholding in Aer Lingus, has influence over the airline and that this could reduce competition.

Ryanair contested the findings and said that it would appeal any remedies imposed.

“While Ryanair is one of the UK's largest airlines, Aer Lingus has a tiny presence in the UK, serving just six routes to the Republic of Ireland, a traffic base that has declined over the past three years and now accounts for less than one per cent of all UK air traffic,” said chief executive Michael O’Leary.

“This case, involving two Irish airlines where one (Aer Lingus) accounts for less than one per cent of the UK's total air traffic, is yet another enormous waste of UK taxpayer resources on a case which has little if any impact on UK consumers.”