A senior Ryanair executive has told the High Court that its outgoing Chief Operations Officer Peter Bellew has information about the Irish based airline that a competitor would “kill to have.”
Eddie Wilson said that through “a lot of hard work” and innovation the airline has for many years come up with ways to keep its costs low.
Many would like to know how the airline manages to do this, and such information would be contained in reports available to the airline’s senior management, known as ‘Zs’, including Mr Bellew, he said.
Under cross-examination by Tom Mallon Bl for Mr Bellew Mr Wilson accepted that Mr Bellew had not been at the weekly z meetings, conducted on Monday mornings, since late July shortly after it was announced he was leaving Ryanair.
He also accepted Mr Mallon’s contention that Mr Bellew no longer had access to important confidential reports and confidential information generated and exchanged between the Zs.
Mr Wilson said that Mr Bellew did have an important insight about how Ryanair operates, including information about longer terms contracts had how it would address various situations and their strategies.
Mr Wilson who is the CEO of Ryanair DAC, and the airline’s former chief people officer was giving evidence in the airline’s action against Mr Bellew, who Ryanair has sued over his decision to take up employment with easyJet.
In a claim denied by Mr Bellew, Ryanair says he cannot commence work with what it considers to be its main rival in the low fares aviation sector because of a clause in his contract of employment.
Ryanair claims the clause prevents Mr Bellew from joining a competitor for a period of 12 months post his departure from the airline.
On the fourth day of the action, the court also heard evidence from Ryanair’s Chief Commercial Officer David O’Brien, who in his evidence said that easyJet is Ryanair’s main competitors in the low fares aviation industry, something which Mr Bellew denies.
Under cross-examination from John Rogers SC for Mr Bellew Mr O’Brien accepted that additional flights to Ryanair’s 2020 summer schedule had to be altered and put back to 2021, but not abandoned, been due to problems with the Boeing 737 Max aircraft.
The airline had expected 58 new 737 Max’s would be delivered in 2020, but that has been put on hold due to safety concerns about the aircraft.
He did not know how many of the aircraft will be delivered in 2020, and accepted that it could be less than 20 aircraft, but said he expected that the 737 Maxs would eventually come on stream.
In its action, Ryanair seeks an order requiring Mr Bellew to specifically perform his contract of employment with Ryanair, which includes the non-compete clause.
It also seeks an injunction preventing Mr Bellew of Glenconnor House, Killarney, Co Kerry from acting contrary to the post-termination restrictions allegedly contained his contract of employment.
The claims are denied by Mr Bellew. In his defence, Mr Bellew denies any breach of contract and says the purported clause is unenforceable.
The hearing before Mr Justice Senan Allen continues next week.
The Judge has indicated to the court that he hopes to be in a position to give judgement in the matter before the Christmas holidays.