Ryanair, the Irish low-cost carrier has turned to the Irish High Court to lodge legal papers against the carrier’s outgoing COO. Within a week of Ryanair announcing on July 11 Bellew’s intention to leave at the end of this year, easyJet, a rival European low-cost carrier, announced he would be joining them. Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary seemed surprised at the news commenting that the Irish company had fairly extensive non-compete clauses in its senior management contracts that would not usually allow a member of staff to leave Ryanair and immediately join a rival firm. “I would not expect any senior manager in Ryanair to be moving to a competitive airline for a reasonably long period of time,” O’Leary said, adding the airline was in dialogue with Bellew regarding his six-month termination period.
Bellew had been chief operating officer at Ryanair for a period of 18 months, having re-joined company in 2017, shortly after the low-cost carrier’s rostering failure. Prior to his return, he was chief executive of Malaysia Airlines for just under two years, having also served as chief operations officer at the Kuala Lumpur-headquartered airline. Before joining Malaysia Airlines in 2015, Bellew spent more than nine years at Ryanair working in a number of positions, including head of sales and marketing and director of flight operations. Details of what legal action Ryanair was taking against Bellew have yet to be disclosed and neither Ryanair nor easyJet are currently commenting in any great detail on the situation.