Online travel agency On the Beach is suing Ryanair for preventing it from booking flights with the airline, amid an escalation of a long-standing dispute between the travel groups.
According to legal documents filed with the High Court, On The Beach claims Ryanair broke competition rules by blocking the company’s credit cards and preventing its customers from handling online bookings.
On The Beach claims that Ryanair has abused its “dominant” position in the market and caused losses through illegal means. The travel agent claims Ryanair is preventing him from creating a ‘my Ryanair account’ required to make a booking and has made false and derogatory statements about the company.
Ryanair has long struggled with online travel agents, preventing the airline from dealing directly with customers. Managing Director Michael O’Leary called online agents “overcharged scammers” for adding their own fees to the airline’s prices, and Ryanair had previously complained that travel agents had provided incorrect information about passengers to the airline.
Airlines prefer to deal directly with customers, especially since this allows them to sell additional products ranging from seat selection to car rentals and hotel reservations. These so-called auxiliaries are crucial to Ryanair’s low-cost business model in particular, and the airline was the first to use them in Europe to keep fares low.
On The Beach is seeking damages from the airline and says Ryanair has sought to “degrade the On The Beach customer experience by making it less convenient and / or more expensive for.” . . customers to use Ryanair only for direct customers ”.
Ryanair, which has yet to file a defense against the allegations, declined to comment.
On The Beach claims that since December last year, Ryanair has refused to allow its customers to manage their reservations or check-in online, forcing them to do so in person. In some cases, customers would have been charged an additional € 55 for this.
The case follows an ongoing feud over reimbursements for flights canceled during the pandemic. Last year, Ryanair accused several online booking companies of failing to pass refunds on to customers after flights were canceled during the first wave of travel restrictions last spring.
In turn, On the Beach claims in its legal file that package travel rules require it to reimburse customers for canceled flights that Ryanair has not reimbursed. The company claims it was forced to repay £ 48.7million.
Ryanair has introduced an online “customer verification” form on Ryanair.com so that customers can directly request reimbursement for their flight.
The airline filed a lawsuit against On The Beach in 2010, claiming it had copied content from Ryanair’s website, violating its terms of service. However, the complaint has not progressed beyond a court ruling on whether the case should be heard in Ireland or the UK.