Ryanair takes battle over Aer Lingus stake to Supreme Court

Ryanair is taking the battle to retain its 30 per cent stake in rival Aer Lingus to the UK Supreme Court after the Office of Fair Trading was given the green light to investigate whether the holding is harming competition.

The Court of Appeal yesterday rejected an attempt by Ryanair to challenge the OFT move, saying the investigation was “in time” despite the fact that the airline, led by chief executive Michael O’Leary, began to build up its stake in 2006.

Aer Lingus chief executive Christoph Mueller welcomed the move, saying its rival’s stake was “contrary to the interests of consumers and the majority of our shareholders”.

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The European Commission blocked Ryanair’s takeover bid for Aer Lingus in 2007.

A spokesman for Ryanair said it will be seeking a suspension of any OFT investigation pending its Supreme Court appeal.

GARETH MACKIE