“Half-term holidays are back and so – briefly – are airline profits,” said Lex in the FT. Ryanair, which was “burning through €200m a week” at the height of the pandemic, notched up a respectable €225m profit in the last quarter. The Irish budget airline warned that the winter ahead was likely to prove “challenging”. And not just financially. The board is bracing for conflict over plans to delist Ryanair from the London Stock Exchange – a move described by CEO Michael O’Leary as an “inevitability”. If it does happen, it will spell “another blow” to the “dwindling” London market.
O’Leary’s “disdain” for “the dead hand of Brussels bureaucracy” is well known, said Ben Marlow in The Daily Telegraph. And it’s “clearly not in the company’s interest to cut itself off from the biggest pool of capital in Europe”. But Ryanair, which is also listed in Dublin and New York, argues it has little choice. The move has been on the cards since Brexit – “because EU rules demand that European airlines must be majority-owned and controlled by nationals of the bloc” (or a handful of EFTA countries, including Switzerland). Consequently, trading volumes in the City have fallen dramatically.
“If it’s okay for Swiss investors to own a slice…there is no logic in denying UK investors,” agreed Nils Pratley in The Guardian. This is primarily “a political failure” on the part of the UK and EU to tie up “a Brexit loose- end that should have been settled in about five minutes of negotiation”. As an airline, Ryanair is clearly a special case, said Reuters. Yet the general direction of travel isn’t encouraging for London, whose blue-chip index has substantially underperformed the European Stoxx index this year. Ryanair’s “high-profile de-listing” may not be the last.