Ryanair Ordered To Sell 25% Of Aer Lingus Stake
Ryanair has been ordered to sell nearly 25% of its shares in Aer Lingus.
The Competition Commission said the budget airline must cut its stake in its Irish rival from 29.8% to 5%.
Ryanair said it will appeal against the decision to the UK Competition Appeal Tribunal.
The Commission ruled that Ryanair's shareholding "had led or may be expected to lead to a substantial lessening of competition between the airlines on routes between Great Britain and Ireland."
It follows a lengthy probe which Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary claimed was "bizarre and manifestly wrong."
In a statement he said: "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."
But in its final report the watchdog added: "We consider that there is a tension between Ryanair's position as a competitor and its position as Aer Lingus's largest shareholder, and that Ryanair has an incentive to weaken its rival's effectiveness as a competitor."
Ryanair has made three attempts to buy Aer Lingus, with its latest bid blocked by the European Commission.
Mr O'Leary told Sky News: "Just 5 months ago the EU prohibited our third offer for Aer Lingus on the very basis that competition had intensified between Ryanair and Aer Lingus.
"So here we have this crazy situation where the EU prohibits our offer because competition has intensified and 5 months later the UK Competition Commission says we should be forced to sell down our stake because competition has lessened."
He added: "They clearly have no evidence for that ruling."