Ryanair fails to delay operations chief’s move to easyJet


FILE PHOTO: Peter Bellew, former Chief Operating Officer of Ryanair, leaves the Four Courts in Dublin after the opening day of Ryanair’s High Court Action to prevent him from joining its competitor Easyjet as COO in January, Dublin, Ireland December 3, 2019. REUTERS/Lorraine O’Sullivan

DUBLIN (Reuters) – The Irish High Court on Monday rejected Ryanair’s (RYA.I) attempt to prevent operations chief Peter Bellew from joining rival easyJet (EZJ.L) until 2021, saying a 12-month non-compete clause was unenforceable.

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Ryanair said it had instructed its lawyers to immediately appeal.

During two weeks of hearings, Ryanair argued that Bellew possessed information of significant competitive value and was bound by a non-compete clause that should prevent him from starting work at the British airline in January.

Former Malaysia Airlines chief executive Bellew, denied he was subject to the clause, which was attached to a share option scheme he said was valueless, and argued that the restriction was overly broad.

Judge Senan Allen said that although the non-compete clause was valid, it was unjustifiably restrictive by preventing Bellew from joining any airline, not just those in the same market segment as Ryanair.

“I find that the covenant in this case, properly construed, would prevent the defendant from taking up employment with any European airline, including the legacy carriers, and so goes beyond what the plaintiff has shown to be justified,” Allen said in his judgment.

Reporting by Conor Humphries, editing by Louise Heavens and Jane Merriman

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