Ryanair asks Microsoft to help block ‘scrapers’

Ryanair has enlisted the help of software giant Microsoft to ramp up its attempts to block third parties from screen scraping fares from its website.

The move comes at the end of a fraught week for the airline following the emergency landing of one of its aircraft and finding itself on the receiving end of an injunction in Germany over its policy of cancelling tickets bought on third party sites.

Travolution understands that Microsoft and technology provider Navitaire have been asked to “proactively eliminate” screen scraping of the Ryanair site, primarily by blocking block access from other sites.

A spokesperson confirmed that the airline would attempt to block as many sites as possible – mirroring a strategy by Directline Insurance in the UK which claims its products cannot be found on any price comparison website.

The airline said the blocking of third party sites will improve “processing times” and speed up access for consumers on the site.

The process is believed by many to be extremely difficult to complete as some travel sites gain access to the fares by using consumer IP addresses.

The airline has come in for further criticism this week following the publication of over 300 mostly European websites which were on the receiving end of a Cease and Desist letter earlier this year from Ryanair’s legal team.

Lastminute.com and Cheapflights said they do not scrape the Ryanair site for fares, while Skyscanner – which was also included on the list – claimed it had been given the thumbs-up to publish the airline’s fares.

The situation is in danger of “spiralling out of control”, one travel company managing director told Travolution this week.

The spokesperson told Travolution: ““We have no agreement with any third party websites and do not endorse the use of any website apart from Ryanair.com.”

The latest move by Ryanair comes as it attempts to overturn an injunction brought against it by Cheap Tickets BV in Germany.

A preliminary hearing found that the airline “must not refuse carriage on the grounds that the ticket was booked through a third party”.

Ryanair said it would fight the injunction and “expect to have it overturned”.

Meanwhile, another German injunction by Ryanair against VTours, in an attempt to stop it scraping the Ryanair site, was upheld after  VTours appealed at a Hamburg court this week.

* Special Report: Ryanair ‘screen scraping’ saga

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