Monday 26 August 2019

Ryanair and Expedia settle dispute on fares

Ryanair had made screen-scraping claims
Ryanair had made screen-scraping claims
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

RYANAIR and travel giant Expedia have settled a bruising legal action, where the airline had sued the US firm for alleged screen-scraping.

Ryanair launched the legal action against Expedia in 2017.

The airline claimed in a Seattle court that the online travel group was using automated computer programmes to 'scrape', or capture, fares from Ryanair's website, before selling them to Expedia customers, who then did not have to visit the Ryanair site to make the airline ticket purchase.

That meant that Ryanair lost the opportunity to sell ancillary services, such as car hire, priority boarding or insurance, to flyers, it was suggested.

Ancillary revenue - which also includes in-flight sales of everything from coffee to scratchcards - contributed €2.43bn, or 32pc, of Ryanair's total operating revenues in the financial year to the end of last March. They accounted for 28pc of Ryanair's total operating revenues in the previous financial year. Ancillary revenue per booked passenger rose 10.7pc to €17.15 in the 12 months to the end of March.

Court filings in the United States confirm that Ryanair and Expedia voluntarily agreed to have the case between them dismissed last week.

The proceedings taken by Ryanair against Expedia in Dublin were formally discontinued on Tuesday.

Neither Ryanair nor Expedia had responded to requests for comment at the time of going to press.

"All claims set forth in Ryanair's complaint and all counterclaims set forth in Expedia's answer and counterclaims are dismissed with prejudice," US court filings stated.

That means Ryanair cannot bring an action against Expedia on the same claim.

The legal battle saw Ryanair attempt to sue Expedia for alleged losses under the US Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

Expedia had tried to have the case dismissed, and had insisted in court filings that Ryanair could not rely on the Act to recover any alleged losses, or invoke US law to pursue its case against the online travel group.

In its latest annual report, Ryanair warned that the activities of screenscraper websites could lead to a reduction in the number of customers who book directly on its website, and "consequently to a reduction in Ryanair's ancillary revenue stream".

It added: "Some customers may be lost to Ryanair once they are presented by a screen-scraper website with a Ryanair fare inflated by the screen-scraper's intermediary fee. This could also adversely affect Ryanair's reputation as a low-fares airline, which could negatively affect Ryanair's results of operations and financial conditions."

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