Ryanair to wage war on web touts

27 Jan 2009

Ryanair said today it is ready to declare all-out war on screenscraper and ticket-tout websites that are unlawfully selling the airline’s flights at exorbitant prices.

In August, a Hamburg court decided to uphold Ryanair’s injunction against screenscraper/ticket-tout websites, which the airline claimed ripped off consumers by between 200pc and 300pc.

Ever since, the airline has waged a legal campaign against websites that are using unauthorised downloaded information from Ryanair’s website and unlawfully selling the flights with massive hidden add-ons or handling fees to unsuspecting consumers.

Ryanair said it will appeal last week’s decision in favour of the website Atrapalo, and any further rulings in favour of screenscraping/ticket-tout websites.

It said these rulings are anti-consumer and allow screenscrapers to continue their unauthorised access to Ryanair’s website and the sale of Ryanair seats, contrary to Ryanair’s terms and conditions.

Ryanair believes this unauthorised and unlawful behaviour of ticket-tout websites is no different to the free download of internet music, video or other services.

It has called on the courts to protect consumers against the hidden fare increases and handling charges of third-party ‘add-on’ websites such as E-Dreams, which can double the cost of airfares without customers’ knowledge.

In August, Ryanair released findings that showed screenscraper websites overcharged consumers by up to 370pc. An example of a Ryanair flight on Bravofly.com works out at €60.93, up €40.95 or 205pc. A €106.87 Ryanair flight works out at €385.97 on Edreams.com, up 260pc or €279.10. A €10 Ryanair flight cost €37 on Weglo.com, up 370pc or €27.

Commenting on the impact screenscraper web touts are having, Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary (pictured) said that ultimately consumers are bearing the brunt of the touts’ sharp practices.

“We have provided the courts with documentary evidence of this unauthorised, ticket-tout scam being perpetrated on consumers by these screenscraper websites,” O’Leary said.

“We do not believe that a court should put the interests of these unauthorised sites ahead of the interests of the consumers who have been exposed to hidden mark-ups and over-charged by these screenscraper/ticket-tout websites.

“We hope that the decision of the court today will prevent the mis-selling of Ryanair’s tickets and the unauthorised sales of Ryanair’s seats by E-dreams.

“Our case has successfully been put before the EU and we will appeal any Spanish court decision that fails to stop the unauthorised activities of these overcharging ticket-tout sites.”

By John Kennedy

Pictured: Ryanair CEO, Micheal O’Leary

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years