12 June 2015
Despite an appeal by Ryanair, an inquiry by the CMA has decided it must sell the majority of its shares in rival company Aer Lingus.
Ryanair holds a stake of 29.8% in Aer Lingus, but it has been ordered to reduce this to 5%. The airline had previously tried to take over its rival on two occasions, both times unsuccessfully. After the second failed attempt two years ago, Ryanair was ordered by the Competition Commission to sell the majority of its shares in Aer Lingus. Ryanair appealed against this decision, but was unsuccessful, the CMA giving a provisional decision in April this year and now publishing a final order requiring Ryanair to sell its stake.
This follows International Airlines Group’s (IAG) bid to take over Aer Lingus, which is dependent on securing Ryanair’s agreement to sell its shareholding.
Simon Polito, Chairman of the CMA inquiry group said that the IAG takeover was ‘an important part of our decision to require Ryanair to reduce its shareholding. It’s not good for competition when one company holds such an influence over the future of one of its major competitors… we need to ensure that… Ryanair’s ability to hold sway over Aer Lingus is removed.’
A spokesman for Ryanair, Robin Kiely, said the CMA’s order was ‘manifestly wrong’. The airline is now planning to apply to the Supreme Court to appeal the decision, which it has described as ‘ridiculous’ and ‘legally flawed’.