Ryanair has instigated legal proceedings against departing chief operating officer Peter Bellew, according to court documents.

The Court Service of Ireland's website shows that "Ryanair DAC v Bellew" was filed with Ireland's High Court on 6 August. No further details are provided, but Peter Bellew is listed as the defendant.

Bellew confirmed in mid-July that he would be leaving Ryanair at the end of this year. A week later, low-cost rival EasyJet disclosed during its third-quarter results presentation that he would be taking its vacant chief operating officer role.

Speaking during an earnings call on 29 July, Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary acknowledged that he could not comment on "any individual's contract or termination".

But he stated: "All of the senior management in Ryanair have pretty long termination or notice periods in their contracts... And thereafter, they have a pretty extensive non-compete agreement, which arises from the share option schemes that they have agreed and received over a period of time.

"So I would not expect any senior manager in Ryanair to be moving to a competitive airline for a reasonably long period of time. And that applies to me, it applies to all of the senior management team."

EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren said on 18 July that Bellew's starting date with the carrier was yet to be confirmed. The Luton-based operator had been searching for a new chief operating officer since Chris Browne announced her retirement in March.

Source: FlightGlobal.com