Ryanair and Wizz Air strip UK shareholders of voting rights

British shareholders in Ryanair and Wizz Air will have their voting rights removed after the end of the Brexit transition period, as the two London-listed airlines moved to protect their European licences.

Ryanair said on Tuesday that it would move ahead with plans to treat so-called ordinary or depositary shares as restricted shares if they are owned by non-EU nationals. This will include British citizens, the airline said.

It followed a similar move by Hungarian airline Wizz Air, which is also listed in London.

It keeps the two airlines in line with European ownership regulations. 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.

Wizz Air said that if it did not take action, around 80% of its shares would be held by non-EU citizens as the UK leaves the EU.

About six in 10 of its shareholders will be sent restricted share notices to stop them from showing up at future meetings.

Ryanair said it will not require British citizens to sell their shares, but will ban them from showing up to, speaking at or voting at shareholder meetings.

“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 licences,” Ryanair said in a statement to the stock exchange on Tuesday.

The measures had previously been signalled by both airlines as they sought to protect their rights to fly within the bloc’s borders after Brexit.

Ryanair said the policy that is extending to UK nationals has been in place since 2002.

Last week easyJet, which is also based in the UK, said it would restrict voting rights of some shareholders to make sure EU citizens own 50% of the company.