Ryanair’s outgoing chief operations officer Peter Bellew is being sued after he quit the no-frills carrier for rival easyJet.

The budget airline has issued legal action in a Dublin court against Bellew, who announced he was stepping down last month.

EasyJet said a week later it had recruited the 54-year-old in the same position.

Dublin High Court records show Ryanair issued proceedings against Bellew on Tuesday.

No further details on the action were disclosed although reports suggest Ryanair is taking him to court over a contract issue, according to The Times.

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary noted in a call with industry analysts last week that the airline was in talks with Bellew over his six-month termination period.

O’Leary said he could not comment on his colleague’s departure for legal reasons.

He pointed out that all Ryanair senior managers’ contracts barred them from working for rival airlines for periods after leaving the Irish company.

“They have a pretty extensive non-compete agreement, which arise from the share option schemes that they have agreed and received over a period of time,” O’Leary said.

“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 all the senior management team,” he said, adding that the airline and Bellew were discussing his six-month notice period.

Bellew has been with Ryanair in a second spell since December 2017 after two years as chief executive of Malaysia Airlines and was responsible for all aspects of the Irish carrier’s flight operations.

He announced last month that he would be leaving at the end of the year. A week later, easyJet announced he would be joining in an identical role.

At easyJet, he will be a member of airline management board and report to CEO Johan Lundgren.