Ryanair appoints ex-department boss despite criticisms

Ryanair has appointed the former secretary general of the Department of Transport, Julie O’Neill, to the board of Ryanair Holdings.

The move came as the British Court of Appeal rejected the low-cost airline’s attempt to block an investigation into its holdings in Aer Lingus.

Ms O’Neill must have put in an incredible interview considering Mr O’Leary previously blasted the Department of Transport as being a black hole of talent.

“Look at the quality of the civil service in the Department of Transport. There is no talent or ability there whatsoever. Everything they run from Aer Lingus to the Dublin Airport Authority to CIE to Bus Éireann; it’s a shambles.

“It is a politically incompetent administration incapable of running anything in the consumer interest,” Mr O’Leary said in 2009.

Ms O’Neill has been working as a consultant since leaving the department where she spent seven years from 2002 to 2009.

Ryanair has also appointed Louise Phelan, vice president of global operations at eBay’s PayPal, to the board.

Meanwhile, Aer Lingus has welcomed a decision by the UK Court of Appeal, rejecting Ryanair’s attempt to halt the UK Competition Commission’s investigation.

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 Competition Commission to consider sanctions.

The Competition Commission — unlike the OFT — has the power to force Ryanair to divest its stake.

Chairman of Aer Lingus, Colm Barrington, described the ruling as the beginning of the end of Ryanair’s shareholding.

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