O’Leary plans to complain Aer Lingus

RYANAIR is in the process of preparing a formal complaint for the British financial authorities over what it called “market manipulation” on behalf of Aer Lingus.

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary warned a fortnight ago that if Aer Lingus was to post heavy losses for 2008 after seemingly promising shareholders it would make a profit then Ryanair, which has a 29% stake in the company, would formally complain.

Last week, Aer Lingus duly reported a pre-tax loss of €120 million for last year — with the value of its shares falling by the largest daily amount ever, on the same day.

Mr O’Leary told journalists yesterday, Ryanair would now formally complain to the London Stock Exchange, the UK Financial Services Authority (FSA) and the British Takeover Panel.

He said he hoped the result of such a complaint would be that Aer Lingus would be forced, in future, to only produce documentation that was “truthful and accurate” in its content.

Meanwhile, NCB Stockbrokers last week forecast that Aer Lingus would make an operating loss of around €60m this year. It previously forecast operating losses of ‘just’ €9m for 2009.

The firm’s aviation analyst, Neil Glynn, said: “With the airline [Aer Lingus] facing three consecutive years of operating losses, the need to take a knife to the cost base again is clear.”

Aer Lingus made no comment last week on that statement and remained silent yesterday in the immediate aftermath of Mr O’Leary’s comments.

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