Ryanair has been left with no car rental offering via its website for three months after Hertz abruptly withdrew from a supply deal with the airline at noon today.
The low-cost carrier claims the sudden termination is a breach of a contract, which was recently extended by five years to 2020, and is to take legal action for breach of contract damages from the car hire firm.
The airline said that Hertz alleged that Ryanair’s agreement with GDSs represented a breach of contract.
However, Ryanair disputes this as it has been distributing through GDSs since April 2014 “with Hertz’s knowledge and support”.
Hertz is to honour existing bookings made via Ryanair.com.
The airline is now looking for a replacement car hire supplier which it does not expect to have in place until October.
That will coincide with the launch of the carrier’s improved personalised website and mobile app.
Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary said: “We regret Hertz’s decision to end our car hire agreement at such short notice today, at a time that will cause maximum inconvenience to our customers during the peak travel period.
“We have had a long and successful partnership with Hertz, and it’s a pity that this has ended in such an unfortunate and untimely manner.”
He added: “We have instructed our lawyers to issue proceedings against Hertz for breach of contract. In the meantime we look forward to entering into discussions with other car hire suppliers who wish to offer their services to Ryanair’s largest European customer via Ryanair.com.
“We apologise sincerely to our customers for the absence of any car hire services on the Ryanair website from 12:00hrs today, however this decision has regrettably been forced upon us by Hertz’s short notice this morning.
“We hope it will not cause too much inconvenience to our customers while we take a few months to identify and agree a suitable replacement provider who wishes to partner with Ryanair during the coming five year period of rapid traffic growth for Europe’s lowest fare airline.
“Since we expect that any losses arising from this interruption to our car hire services will be recovered from our legal proceedings against Hertz, we do not expect this interruption to have a material impact on current earnings.”
Hertz International group president, Michel Taride, said: “We have enjoyed many years of a successful relationship with Ryanair, but unfortunately we were not able to reach agreement with the airline over a significant contractual dispute in spite of considerable effort.
“The majority of Ryanair passengers who need car hire from the Hertz brands in July and August are already booked and confirmed. Any customer who wishes to book car rental and enjoy great service at competitive rates can make arrangements directly with us. Customers can also modify existing bookings on the Ryanair website.
“Hertz deeply values all of its partnerships, some which have been going for more than 20 years. We strongly believe in mutually beneficial partnerships and would never take lightly the decision to end a key relationship.
“We are confident in our legal position and intend to pursue this matter vigorously through the courts.”