Ryanair to appeal UK Competition Commission report, labels decision 'bizarre and manifestly wrong'
Ryanair confirmed (28-Aug-2013) that it will appeal the UK Competition Commission (UKCC) final report which it claims "wrongly found that Ryanair, through its 7 year old minority (29.8%) shareholding in Aer Lingus, "had led or may be expected to lead to a substantial lessening of competition between the airlines on routes between Great Britain and Ireland"". The company continued to assert that "this baseless claim is manifestly disproven by 7 years of evidence and by the European Commission's recent (Feb 2013) ruling that competition between Ryanair and Aer Lingus has "intensified" since 2007". Ryanair also claims that the findings are "ignoring and contradicting" the recent findings of the European Commission that found that "Aer Lingus and Ryanair compete on a greater number of routes compared to the 2007 Decision" and "there is significant competitive interaction between the Parties". Ryanair also claimed that the UKCC has "inexplicably dismissed Ryanair's unprecedented remedies package which comprehensively addressed the UKCC's three invented "concerns". The carrier added: "The UKCC's manifestly unjust ruling demonstrates that it did not conduct any fair investigation and that it has now merely announced what was its pre-determined conclusion. Ryanair will appeal the UKCC's unlawful ruling to the UK Competition Appeal Tribunal. In any event, until the completion of Ryanair's appeal to the EU courts against the European Commission's February 2013 prohibition decision, the CC cannot lawfully impose any remedies on Ryanair". [more - original PR]
Ryanair: "This report by the UKCC is bizarre and manifestly wrong but also entirely expected. From the first meeting with the UKCC it has been clear to us that Simon Polito's and Roger Davis' minds had been made up in advance and no truth or evidence was going to get in the way of their story. This prejudicial approach to an Irish airline is very disturbing, coming from an English government body that regards itself a model competition authority. Polito's and Davis' ignoring of evidence, their conduct of a manifestly unfair investigation, their omission of all the substantial body of evidence that conclusively disproves their case, and their rejection of Ryanair's unprecedented undertakings (which patently address their three invented future concerns), all in a misguided pursuit of their pre-determined conclusion, demonstrate that this process was not a competition investigation but merely a corrupt and politically biased charade. While Ryanair is one of the UK's largest airlines, Aer Lingus has a tiny presence in the UK, serving just 6 routes to the Republic of Ireland, a traffic base that has declined over the past 3 years and now accounts for less than 1% of all UK air traffic. This case, involving two Irish airlines where one (Aer Lingus) accounts for less than 1% of the UK's total air traffic and concerns very few UK consumers, is yet another enormous waste of UK taxpayer resources from a body which took no action whatsoever when the two main UK airlines (BA and bmi) merged. It would appear to be a case of one rule for the UK airlines but an invented set of rules for two Irish airlines. In February 2013 the European Commission found that competition between Ryanair and Aer Lingus has "intensified" since 2007. The UKCC's failure to accept this finding is a breach of its legal duty of sincere cooperation between the UK and the EU competition authorities and will form the basis for Ryanair's appeal against this bizarre and manifestly unsound ruling, which our lawyers will lodge with the Competition Appeal Tribunal in the coming weeks," Michael O'Leary, CEO. Source: Company statement, 28-Aug-2013.