Ryanair has today removed a new extra security step which was seen as a move to to prevent travel agents booking its flights using the screen-scraping method.
A new verification step was added to the Ryanair booking process this week requiring the customer to input a unique code. The step is intended to ensure the inquiry is coming from a human rather than a machine.
However, the airline removed the new procedure today after Travel Weekly broke the news this morning.
On Holiday Group chief executive Steve Endacott said, if the security step is reinstated, the move could present a major challenge for a number of UK-based dynamic packaging agencies, some of whom he estimated are up to 60% reliant on Ryanair flights.
He believes Ryanair may be unaware of exactly how much business comes from the trade and, despite chief executive Michael O’Leary’s well documented antagonism to travel agents, may come to regret this latest attempt to cut them out.
“They could lose 30% of their business,” he said. “It’s a question of who blinks first; the trade or Ryanair.”
The Irish budget carrier has fought and lost a number of legal cases around Europe in its attempts to prevent third party sales, although many firms are able to get around attempts to stifle screen scraping by using companies based outside of the EU.
Endacott described the move by Ryanair as “deeply anti-consumer”.
No-one at Ryanair was available to comment.