Ryanair has launched legal proceedings against its outgoing chief operations officer, Peter Bellew, whom rival EasyJet announced last month it had poached.
Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary told staff on July 11 that Mr Bellew would step down at the end of the year. EasyJet announced his arrival as COO a week later.
The legal proceedings were lodged in the High Court on Tuesday. No further details of the case were made available.
Asked about Mr Bellew’s departure on an analyst call last week, Mr O’Leary said he could not comment on it for legal reasons but said all senior management at the Irish airline had extensive non-compete agreements in their contracts.
“I would not expect any senior manager in Ryanair to be moving to a competitive airline for a reasonably long period of time,” he said, adding that the airline was in dialogue with Mr Bellew regarding his six-month termination period.
Ryanair and EasyJet said they would not comment on the matter.
Mr Bellew rejoined Ryanair in December 2017 after a stint as chief executive at Malaysia Airlines.
Ryanair’s Irish-based pilots are today expected to follow their UK counterparts by voting for strike action over pay and working condition demands.
Meanwhile, Aer Lingus has carried just over 6.7m passengers across its route network so far this year, nearly 4% more than at the same point last year, new figures from parent group IAG show.
Latest monthly figures, however, show Aer Lingus lagged IAG’s other airlines in passenger growth terms in July, with just a 0.6% year-on-year increase to 1.26 million seen.
In contrast, British Airways, Iberia, and Vueling saw respective annual growth rates of 1%, 7.1%, and 4.6% in July.
Last week, a mixed set of financial results for IAG showed Aer Lingus’ operating profit for the first half of 2019 fell 25%, year-on-year, to €78m.
The airline’s chief executive, Sean Doyle, said the results represented a solid performance in a challenging market.
IAG is bracing for a British Airways pilot strike later this month. More than 90% of British Airways’ 4,000 pilots voted in favour of industrial action last month, after rejecting a three-year pay deal.