Belfast Telegraph

Ryanair to appeal sell-off ruling

By John Mulligan

The UK's Competition Commission has told Ryanair to sell a 24.8% stake in Aer Lingus, dealing a major blow to the airline headed by Michael O'Leary.

The enforced sale will leave Ryanair with just a 5% holding in Aer Lingus.

The watchdog issued a final decision yesterday after a lengthy probe where it found in May that Ryanair exerts a "material influence" over Aer Lingus via its near 30% stake in its smaller rival.

Mr O'Leary yesterday slammed the Competition Commission's decision.

He claimed that while "entirely expected the decision is "manifestly wrong".

He added that Ryanair lawyers will lodge an appeal with the UK's Competition Appeal Tribunal in coming weeks.

"This case, involving two Irish airlines where one (Aer Lingus) accounts for less than 1% of the UK's total air traffic, is yet another waste of UK taxpayer resources from a body which took no action when the two main UK airlines (BA and bmi) merged," he said.

"It would appear to be a case of one rule for the UK airlines but an invented set of rules for two Irish airlines."

Belfast Telegraph