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Company Watch - Ryanair.

New York (AirGuideBusiness - Company Watch) May 27, 2012

BAA Seeks Second Chance to Appeal Forced Stansted Sale. London Heathrow airport owner BAA Airports Ltd. won permission to present its appeal to overturn an order that it must sell its Stansted terminal to meet antitrust rules. The U.K. Court of Appeal said today it would hear the request from the airport operator, owned by a group including SpainOs Ferrovial SA (FER), the company said in an e-mailed statement. While BAA is appealing specifically against a Competition Appeal Tribunal ruling from February, the case centers on the 2009 decision by BritainOs Competition Commission that BAA must sell Stansted and one of its Scottish airports. OWe are pleased that permission to appeal has been granted and look forward to presenting our arguments before the Court of Appeal,O BAA said. In its decision, the Competition Appeal Tribunal dismissed the companyOs argument the ruling should be overturned because the U.K. airport market had become more competitive since the agencyOs decision three years ago. In October 2010, the Court of Appeal rejected BAAOs claim that the regulatorOs review of the case was biased and the initial decision should be rescinded. Siobhan Allen, a spokeswoman for the Competition Commission, declined to immediately comment. BAA last month agreed to sell Edinburgh airport to U.S. firm Global Infrastructure Partners Ltd. for 807.2 million pounds ($1.27 billion) to comply with the antitrust regulatorOs order. Stansted is the companyOs second-busiest airport, following its forced disposal of London Gatwick in 2009, and the biggest base for Ryanair Holdings Plc (RYA), EuropeOs No. 1 discount airline. OThis seventh appeal, by the BAA, will further delay the sale of Stansted, proving yet again that the BAA has no regard for passengers, competition or tourism as it attempts to retain its stranglehold over London traffic,O Ryanair said in an e-mailed statement. May 24, 2012

UK's OFT To Probe Ryanair's Aer Lingus Stake. RyanairUK's OFT To Probe Ryanair's Aer Lingus Stake faced increased pressure to sell its minority stake in rival Aer Lingus at a loss after a British court on Tuesday gave the competition regulator the green light to investigate whether the stake is curbing competition. Britain's Office of Fair Trading last year launched a probe into whether Ryanair's 29.8 percent holding in Aer Lingus gave it the power to influence the former state carrier's commercial policy and hampered competition. The Court of Appeal on Tuesday rejected an attempt by Ryanair to challenge the OFT move, saying the investigation was "in time" despite the fact that Ryanair began to build up its stake in 2006, the two airlines said. Ryanair said it would appeal the decision to the supreme court. Ryanair mounted a public takeover for all of Aer Lingus in October 2006, but the European Commission investigated the bid and decided to prohibit it in June 2007. The commission ruled, however, that Ryanair could not be forced to sell its stake, since Ryanair did not have de facto or de jure control of Aer Lingus. The OFT says it is investigating whether the stake would harm UK consumers as both airlines have significant operations in the United Kingdom. It does not have the power to force Ryanair to divest its stake, but it can refer its decision to the competition commission, which can order divestments. Aer Lingus' share price is less than half the level it was when Ryanair began building up its stake in 2006 and would likely face a heavy loss if it sold its stake. Aer Lingus welcomed Tuesday's court of appeal decision, saying Ryanair's stake in a key competitor was "contrary to the interests of consumers and the majority of our shareholders." May 22, 2012

Ryanair Annual Profit Jumps 25 Percent. Ryanair, Europe's biggest budget airline, warned high fuel costs and a worsening economic outlook meant profit would slip by up to 20 percent in the coming year, the first fall in four years. The Dublin-based airline, which posted a record annual profit on Monday and has posted profit growth of at least 25 percent every year since 2009, confirmed it would pay out EURU483 million (USD$614.5 million) to shareholders in just its second dividend payout since floating in 1997. Net profit reached EURU503 million for the year to March, up 25 percent on the previous year. But it warned worsening economic conditions in Europe and stubbornly high fuel costs would cut its profit to between EURU400 million and EURU440 million in 2013, making it the first year since 2009 that profit has fallen. "Recession, austerity, currency concerns and lower fares at new and growing bases... will make it difficult to repeat this year's record results," chief executive Michael O'Leary said in a statement. "Any increase in fares will only partially offset higher fuel costs." The airline, which has a lower cost base than many of its competitors, raised fares 16 percent over the year to help offset a fuel bill that was 30 percent higher. But it warned it would be unable to pass on an additional EURU320 million euro increase in fuel costs expected in the coming year. "There's a poor environment, it's the fourth year of this, and repeating (fare growth of) 16 percent is not going to happen," said Chief Financial Officer Howard Millar. He added fares would likely rise by closer to 3 percent. "Ryanair is not as worried about the fallout of Greece's current political crisis as the fact that the euro zone is suffering its fourth year of poor economic performance," Millar said. "Greece is very small for us... we would be more concerned about places like Spain, its high unemployment and plans to raise taxes," he said. Traffic will grow by 5 percent for the second year in a row to reach 79 million in the year to March 2013, he said. British peer easyJet this month said it expected second-half revenue to rise as business passengers help it to overcome higher fares. Higher cost rivals Air France-KLM and Lufthansa this month reported results battered by the global economic slowdown and high jet fuel prices. May 21, 2012

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Publication:AirGuide Business
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:May 28, 2012
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