In order to comply with EU regulations for European-operated airlines, both Ryanair and Wizz Air have barred U.K nationals from buying shares in either airline and have both reclassed shares owned by U.K. nationals prior to January 1, 2021 as “restricted shares” where these shareholders “shall not be entitled to attend, speak or vote at any general meeting of the company.”
However, existing U.K. shareholders have not been asked to sell their shares, though the Ryanair Board has the power to require a sell-down of shares by non-EU shareholders. When they do decide to sell them, U.K. shareholders shares will only be able to be bought by a national of a Member European state.
“These resolutions will remain in place until the Board of the Company determines that the ownership and control of the company is no longer such that there is any risk to the airline licenses held by the Company’s subsidiaries pursuant to EU Regulation 1008/2008,” Ryanair said.
London-listed Hungarian airline Wizz Air made a similar move recently after stating “that if it did not take action, around 80% of its shares would be held by non-EU citizens as the U.K. leaves the EU.” The move from the two airlines enables them to operate within European ownership regulations, which state: “To fly between two EU countries, airlines must be directly or indirectly majority-owned and effectively controlled by EU citizens or those of some other EU-affiliated countries, such as Norway and Switzerland.”