The CAA has launched an investigation into the pricing practices of Opodo and eDreams saying the online travel agents (OTAs) have “failed to address concerns” over price transparency.
Opodo and eDreams are part of the eDreams Odigeo travel group, based in Barcelona, and eDreams is already the subject of legal action by Ryanair.
The group is registered in Luxembourg but has a stock-market listing in Spain.
The CAA announced the investigation on Thursday, noting: “Over the course of this year, the CAA has been in discussions with Opodo and eDreams in relation to a number of issues concerning price transparency.
“The companies have failed to address these concerns and have been notified a CAA investigation is underway.”
In response, the group said: “eDreams Odigeo aims to provide best-in-class websites which offer consumers the widest possible flight choice, at the lowest prices available. We take the CAA’s concerns very seriously and will continue to co-operate with them to address the findings of their investigation.”
The regulator noted the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld a complaint of misleading advertising and pricing against Opodo this week and said it welcomed the decision.
Ryanair launched proceedings against eDreams and Google in the Irish High Court at the start of December alleging the companies were misleading consumers.
The carrier claimed eDreams “continue to advertise false fares and unlawfully miss-sell Ryanair fares” and reported: “Thousands of customers have complained after booking false fares with hidden fees.”
Ryanair subsequently welcomed changes to the eDreams display on Google, but said it would continue its legal case.
The CAA noted air fares must be displayed “clearly and transparently” and be inclusive of “all unavoidable and foreseeable taxes, fees, charges and surcharges”.
The authority said it was acting under Article 23 of the European Air Services Regulation (2008), the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and the Consumer Rights (Payment Surcharges) Regulations 2012.
It is part of the CAA’s role “to monitor the practices of airlines and major travel agents in relation to price transparency” to ensure consumers are not misled and can compare the cost of flights.
EDreams Odigeo reported handling almost 10 million bookings in the 12 months to March this year and said flight bookings rose 10% year on year in the six months to September.
The group was founded in 2011 from the merger of eDreams and Go Voyages and acquisition of Opodo.
OTA Opodo was originally set up by a consortium of airlines including British Airways and subsequently run as part of the Amadeus aviation technology group.