Multicom seeks support for Ryanair case from new travel association

Multicom is to approach the recently formed European Technology & Travel Services Association regarding the technology firm’s case against Ryanair.

The case has also attracted the support of a number of key industry players.

The European Commission “accepted” a complaint brought before it last week by Multicom over alleged abuses of competition regulations by Ryanair and its stance against third parties scraping fares for their own websites.

The ETTSA was launched in Brussels last week by a coalition of companies including the three main GDSs and online-based intermediaries such as Opodo and Ebookers.

The association has a mandate to investigate “measures introduced by airlines to prevent online travel agencies from making price comparisons”.

An ETTSA spokesman said it would not comment at this stage on the Multicom-Ryanair case.

However, in a written statement, he added that the association “encourages the EU to explore practices that undermine, transparency, fair and timely access and ultimately consumer choice in travel distribution.

“As an association, ETTSA’s objective is to encourage and support fair competition and real consumer choice within the travel distribution chain,” it continued.

Ebookers managing director Alan Josephs said he “generally” supported Multicom’s position in the case, adding: “Ryanair should not be afraid to let customers more easily compare their fares to the competition in one search result.

“If they really have some of the cheapest fares, we challenge them to prove it by allowing third parties like us to add them to our search results.

Josephs said Ebookers would be asking the ETTSA to look into the case.

“I am sure it will be one of many important issues that this new association will review,” he added.

Travelport, which is one of the founding companies of the ETTSA, said: “We wouldn’t want to comment on this specific case, as such, but we do understand the need for screen scraping in certain circumstances although it is our preferred route to work with our airline partners to formulate good commercial and robust technical solutions.”

Amadeus declined to comment.

In response to the most recent developments in the case, Ryanair last week attached online retailers describing them as “ticket tout pirates”.

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