Online travel agent eDreams has said Ryanair is standing in the way of customers looking for the best deal after a court ruled the that the airline’s legal action against ‘screen-scraping’ could go ahead.
The Commercial Court turned down Google’s bid to strike out legal action taken against it by low-cost carrier Ryanair.
The Irish airline started legal proceedings in the Irish High Court against both Google and eDreams, accusing them of misleading consumers by advertising Ryanair fares via the eDreams website and Google search adverts, practices which are prohibited by Irish consumer legislation.
After Thursday’s ruling, the long-running dispute will now continue to be heard in the Commercial Court.
In response, a spokesman for eDreams said: “Ryanair are trying to stand in the way of the millions of people using online travel agent sites like ours to get the best deal and the most convenient combination of flights possible.
“Flights and holidays on our site are advertised at the price customers will pay when booking with a debit card so they can see the full cost from the very beginning of the booking process. What Ryanair don’t say is that we clearly display all available flight options, from all airlines on our landing pages, no matter how they arrived at our site.”
eDreams, which claims to be on the side of the customer, said one in four of its customers looking for Ryanair flights book with different airlines.
“Ryanair are threatened by the fact that close to half of our customers book a combination of flights which cannot be booked on any single airline website.”
Ryanair welcomed the court’s decision.
A spokesman said: “Ryanair believes Google will be forced to stop allowing its advertisers to mislead unsuspecting customers on the Google search feature, in order to boost Google’ advertising revenues.”
Ryanair argues that eDreams is “masquerading” and selling “false fares” by charging customers hidden fees, and that Google is allowing this to happen.
The airline says it has no issue with OTAs who display its fares in a transparent manner, and already has a number of licencing agreements in place with companies such as SkyScanner, TripAdvisor and Dohop.
Ryanair also has no problem with Google selling ad space, provided it is done so in an “honest and transparent” manner.
Both eDreams and Google deny the claims and are defending the case.