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13 AUGUST 2012
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Britain's Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) has thrown out an appeal by Ryanair, which would have blocked regulators investigating the budget carrier's minority shareholding in Irish rival Aer Lingus. The air war between the two Irish airlines is having severe repercussions for Aer Lingus who has also accused Ryanair of causing unnecessary legal costs.
The failed appeal runs alongside yet another takeover bid from Ryanair for Aer Lingus. Britain's Office of Fair Trading (OFT) previously ruled that Ryanair's ownership of a minority stake in Aer Lingus threatened competition in the British airline market and asked the European Commission’s (EC) Competition Committee (CC) to consider sanctions.
The CC – unlike the OFT – has the power to force Ryanair to divest its stake.
However the European Commission says that Ryanair could not be forced to sell its stake, since Ryanair did not have de facto or de jure control of Aer Lingus.
Ryanair says that it has instructed its lawyers to appeal the ruling of the CAT. The budget airline has a much deeper pocket than the former state carrier but there is a feeling that the continuing fracas will only play into the hands of those who say that Ryanair is the world’s most aggravating airline. www.catribunal.org.uk
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